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ACA Troubled By Consolidation Wave In Pay-TV Market

AT&T-DirecTV Deal Latest Megamerger Reshaping Industry

PITTSBURGH, May 19, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding AT&T's proposed $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV.

"ACA is troubled by the consolidation wave within the video subscription marketplace, highlighted by the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, the Comcast-Charter transactions, and now AT&T's proposed takeover of DirecTV. 

"AT&T's deal merits the closest scrutiny by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. ACA will assist in that effort as more details about the transaction emerge. However, it is increasingly clear that Congress and the FCC simultaneously need to take a comprehensive look at the market that will exist if all these deals are approved, and to decide whether existing rules that govern the current market are sufficient for the new industry order.

"ACA has long highlighted many problems in the pay-TV market, including: The record-setting number of broadcast-imposed TV signal blackouts; the soaring costs of programming, particularly for broadcast stations and sports networks; the rising incidence of cable operator ownership of programming; and the blocking of access to Internet service providers by content companies.

"Given that the companies in each of the latest mergers own programming, Congress and the FCC must consider whether the market will be better or worse as a whole, and if worse, what rules will make the market better. 

"Congress and the FCC must not forget consumers who are not served, and will never be served, by Comcast, Charter, and AT&T, in smaller cities and rural areas, as well as those consumers who elect to subscribe to these big companies' smaller rivals in urban areas.

"We think many questions need answers, including: Will consumers not served by Comcast, Charter, and AT&T be harmed from a marketplace dominated by a few large players, especially when this consolidation is combined with rampant consolidation in the broadcast industry?  And will these customers be harmed by mergers that may result in the video content industry as a result of the consolidation in the pay-TV distribution industry?  In reviewing these transactions, it is vital that policymakers not lose sight of the bigger picture."

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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