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FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Vows To Protect Consumers If Evidence Shows Malfunctioning Retransmission Consent Market

Regulator Delivers FCC Keynote Address At ACA's 18th Summit In Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2011 -  FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, addressing a major gathering of independent cable operators, today vowed to protect consumers and competition if the evidence shows that the retransmission consent market isn't functioning properly for the TV viewing public.

"I fully understand the intent of the retrans rules, and that market forces should be allowed to work.   But I am on the lookout for the consumers in this country, and if the market isn't working, we need to consider taking appropriate steps," Commissioner Clyburn said.

Commissioner Clyburn delivered the FCC Keynote Addresses at ACA's 18th Summit in Washington, D.C., a premier industry event held annually for smaller, independent and competitive cable operators to exchange public policy views with high-ranking federal and state regulators as well as key players from Capitol Hill.

In March, the FCC voted unanimously to open a rulemaking that will examine the retransmission consent regime, which ACA believes is broken and causing much more harm than good for consumers.

Among other things, ACA will urge the FCC to block unaffiliated TV stations in the same market that are planning to negotiate retransmission consent jointly in an effort to use collusion to extract excessive carriage fees from small cable operators.

"ACA is incredibly grateful that Commissioner Clyburn would take the time to address hundreds of ACA members on the vitally important matter of retransmission consent reform. This is an issue that is having a significant impact on independent cable operators that provide hometown America with critical communications services and infrastructure," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "We look forward to working on the retransmission consent rulemaking with Commissioner Clyburn throughout the entire regulatory process."

ACA has kept in close contact with Commissioner Clyburn during her 20 months at the agency, particularly on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger approved in January. Commissioner Clyburn worked hard to obtain appropriate conditions that should allow independent cable operators to secure access to "must-have" Comcast-NBCU programming on fair and reasonable terms.

"These remedies will be in place for seven years and, ladies and gentlemen, you can count on me to be a cop on the beat with regard to monitoring the compliance of those conditions.  And I expect to hear from you, should anything occur that escapes my attention," Commissioner Clyburn said.

In her remarks, Commissioner Clyburn offered her perspective on other key policy issues relevant to independent cable operators serving consumers who reside in smaller, rural markets and competitive areas. In many instances, small businesses are the ones providing rural America with the communications services they need to connect to a global marketplace, she noted.

"Rural residents deserve high-speed broadband, HDTV, next-generation Internet, and phone service just as much as the most well-to-do Manhattanite. You all are the links to these things, which are becoming ever-more-essential in the current economic and job-seeking climates," Commissioner Clyburn said.

 "As I find myself saying more and more lately -- because it's such an important fact -- small businesses are the little engines that actually run this country."

Commissioner Clyburn, nominated by President Obama on June 25, 2009, was sworn in August 3, 2009. Prior to joining the FCC, Commissioner Clyburn served for 11 years on the South Carolina Public Service Commission.

The ACA Summit, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill, concludes Wednesday, April 13, with the Congressional Keynote Address by House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Or.) at 8 a.m. To learn more about ACA Summit 2011, please visit: ACA Summit.org

About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7.6 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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