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ACA Vice Chairman Gessner Calls For Sustained Grassroots Action From ACA Members

American Cable Association Vice Chairman Robert Gessner called on ACA Members to stay engaged with their lawmakers on Capitol Hill and to continue with their generous support of the trade group to demonstrate a strong grassroots commitment by the independent cable community for major reform of outdated communications laws and regulations.

"Our success is the result of 20 years of consistent commitment by our Members, Board, staff and counsel to do the rights things for you, our members, and your customers.  We do this every day.  Our patient and persistent effort to become a credible source of information in Washington has placed us in a position to fully participate in 2013," Gessner said on July 23.

Gessner, who is President of Massillon Cable TV in Massillon, Oh., addressed hundreds of ACA Members in attendance for the 7th Independent Show, a key industry forum co-hosted and organized annually by ACA and the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC). Based in Lenexa, Kansas, NCTC purchases programming and equipment for U.S. cable operators. The Independent Show, held in Lake Buena Vista, FL., included more that 1,300 attendees.

Congress is holding hearings this year in advance of likely efforts to overhaul the Cable Act of 1992 after a new Congress convenes in 2013. Lawmakers are expected to focus on retransmission consent provisions, which have contributed to a spate of broadcaster-initiated blackouts affecting millions of pay-TV subscribers, often on the eve of marquee TV events.

Lawmakers are likely to review program access and carriage policies, including issues related to the ability of Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) to offer consumers a range of programming packages.

To accomplish reforms helpful to the independent cable operators, Gessner told ACA Members that it takes a sustained hands-on commitment to prevail on the issues. To that end, he urged ACA Members to:

  • Be personally engaged with your Congressional representatives;
  • Write Senators and House lawmakers when requested;
  • Visit lawmakers, especially in your home district;
  • Invite them to your office for a meet-and-greet with employees and a facilities tour;
  • Help with constituent outreach with information about lawmaker's Town Hall sessions; and
  • Let lawmakers know you can help them do their job.

"The year 2013 is the one we have been working toward for the past 20 years: Congressional action to begin rewriting the outdated 1992 Cable Act," said Gessner, who is Chairman of the ACA Political Action Committee (ACA PAC). "We are ready. We will need your commitment and your help to turn the tide with Members of Congress.  That means your attendance at the ACA Summit, your support of ACA PAC and your involvement in grassroots efforts are vital."

Gessner also revealed that ACA and NCTC plan to deepen further their already-close working relationship on programming issues.

"While retransmission consent certainly concerned NCTC, the Co-Op was not fully engaged because its role did not include negotiating for broadcast TV stations," Gessner said. "Recently, however, both ACA and NCTC have developed a mutual strategy that retransmission consent is part of the larger issue of program costs and program access and I think you will see an even stronger, more cohesive message reaching Congress and the FCC about this concern of vital importance to our companies, our customers and our communities."

Gessner concluded with an inspirational quotation from Daniel Webster's eulogy to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the Founding Fathers who both died July 4, 1826 on the 50th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence: "It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment,-Independence now and Independence forever." 


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