American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement on Oct. 5 regarding the need to update the 1992 Cable Act to provide consumers with more choice and competition:
"Although today marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Cable Act, it is hardly a cause for celebration. Government-granted retransmission consent rights are repeatedly abused by broadcasters to lay down ‘blackmail or blackout' ultimatums, usually timed to coincide with marquee sporting or cultural events to maximize their leverage over pay-TV providers.
"Look no further than today's headlines: Gannett TV is threating to pull 19 stations and access to weekend National Football League games from Dish Network if the broadcaster can't get its 300% rate hike by Oct. 7. Small pay-TV providers represented by ACA are familiar with these kinds of anti-competitive threats but do not have the local market penetration of a national satellite TV distributor to persuade a hyper-aggressive, government-protected TV station group like Gannett to moderate its demands.
"The cost of free TV has never been higher. The price will continue to soar if lawmakers on Capitol Hill fail to recognize that parts of the 1992 Cable Act need reform. Until the 1992 law is modernized, broadcasters will continue to punish consumers with skyrocketing TV bills and a record number of TV station blackouts.
"ACA believes the status quo is unacceptable because broadcast signal carriage rules codified in 1992 are antiquated and have escaped reform for far too long. These rules do not reflect the realities of pay-TV competition today or the impact of pervasive consolidation in the broadcast industry."