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ACA Statement On House Subcommittee Passage Of STELA

PITTSBURGH, March 25, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding passage today of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) by the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology:

"Both the Federal Communications Commission's Chairman and the Department of Justice's Chief of the Antitrust Division - representing the nation's expert agencies - have both recognized that consumers and competition are harmed when separately owned, same-market broadcasters collude in the sale of retransmission consent to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), including independent cable operators who are ACA members.

"Available evidence shows that such collusion raises retransmission rates by at least 18% and that these unjustly gained higher rates are passed along to consumers in the form of higher bills.  Not surprisingly, ACA members and the millions of customers they serve are quite distressed with Section 3 of the discussion draft passed today in that it provides broadcasters with a statutory right to engage in this highly dubious practice.  

"We appreciate that Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats, especially Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, highlighted this section of the bill as one that needs to be changed before passage by the full committee. The commitment of the Subcommittee's top Republican, Chairman Greg Walden, to try to pass a bipartisan bill was appreciated.

"For consumers' sake, we hope Congress realizes that collusion under any circumstances is the wrong policy for our nation. ACA stands ready to work with the Committee to find a solution that protects consumers and establishes a more competitive marketplace."

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 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 http://www.americancable.org/

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