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ACA: Tribune's DirecTV Blackout Supports Need For Federal Action On Retrans

In response to Tribune Broadcasting's decision on April 1 to black out DirecTV satellite consumers in 19 markets involving 23 stations, American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued a statement calling for the Federal Communications Commission to complete its retransmission consent rulemaking and Congress to hold hearings on the issue to seek ways to prevent further consumer harm.

"Tribune Broadcasting's decision to black out millions of DirecTV customers across the country supports ACA's view expressed many times before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission that current retransmission consent rules need to be modernized because they no longer serve the public interest," Polka said.

ACA's position is that the retrans regime is outdated because they have failed to keep pace with the dynamic change in the delivery of video programming by cable, satellite and Internet-based distribution platforms that has occurred in the 20 years since the rules were first enacted by Congress. Until the law and rules change, everyone can expect that TV station owners will continue to push their `blackmail or blackout' strategy to the detriment of consumers and competition.

"Tribune's blackout is hardly unique," Polka explained. "Cordillera Communications, owner of NBC affiliate KRIS, Telemundo affiliate KAJA, CW South Texas and independent station KDF in Corpus Christi, Texas, pulled its signals from Time Warner Cable on Dec. 12, 2011, some 111 days ago, resulting in the cable operator's customers not being able to watch the Super Bowl."

Polka added: "ACA is hopeful that Tribune's actions will set the stage this year for final action at the FCC on the pending rulemaking to reform retransmission consent rules and will spur the U.S. House and Senate to hold a series of hearings on the video marketplace, particularly the decades-old retransmission consent rules."

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