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FCC Extends Digital Carriage Deadline for Satellite TV; Small & Independent Cable Must Be Next


PITTSBURGH, March 20, 2008-Responding to recent reports that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted satellite TV providers a four-year extension on carriage rules for digital broadcast signals, the American Cable Association (ACA) released the following statement today:

"The FCC's willingness to consider the post-transition burdens providers will face in the coming years, and more importantly its willingness to take action to relieve them, is a positive sign for small and independent cable providers, and consumers in their service areas" ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "But while the FCC's reported decision is encouraging, we certainly hope the Commission fully understands that easing the rules for only one set of providers would give satellite TV a competitive advantage over small and independent cable operators, and that the last thing the second and fourth largest pay television companies in the country need is more of an advantage.

"The Commission understands and acknowledges the need for flexibility during the transition," Polka continued, "and there are very real challenges facing both cable and satellite providers. However, the system size and technical capacity limitations of small, independent cable systems are no less real or any less of a challenge than the technical issues these multibillion-dollar providers would face. In recent months, ACA has requested, both in our filings with the FCC and in our public statements, that the commission adopt a rational exemption policy for small cable operators. An exemption that recognizes that small cable systems do not have the resources to comply with a dual-carriage obligation, and that requiring them to waste time, money and system capacity is completely reasonable. We are confident the FCC will do the right thing."

The American Cable Association (ACA) has recently filed comments with the FCC requesting an exemption for smaller cable operators. Current dual-carriage mandates require cable operators to deliver both the analog and digital signal of a broadcaster for three years after the nation's switch to digital TV. Small cable systems may face capacity constraints with the delivery of both signals. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association has also requested that the FCC adopt such a small provider exemption.

The FCC is examining this issue as part of its efforts tied to the nation's digital TV transition set for February 2009.

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About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing 1,100 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 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 www.americancable.org.

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