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Polka: ACA Will Push To Remove Barriers Preventing “Skinny Bundles”

Cable Operators Should Have Ability To Offer Services In Ways Consumers Receive Them Online

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2, 2016 ­­- ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said cable operators should not be prevented from offering consumers more options in terms of TV channel menus to match offerings from highly popular streaming services available on the Internet.

"ACA is sending the message that large programmers' insistence on big bundles, carriage mandates and tiering penalties need to go the way of ‘dial-up' Internet access.  They simply won't work for ACA Members and their customers in today's app-enabled world of greater choice," Polka said in comments kicking off ACA's 23nd Washington, D.C., Summit.

Standing before hundreds of Summit attendees, Polka spoke of how ACA Member Cincinnati Bell is rolling out a new service called My TV -a "skinny bundle" approach to traditional video that allows customers to choose smaller packages of channels, mixing and matching for a custom menu.

"I believe this needs to become an industry standard, and ACA is educating Congress and the FCC on ways to remove barriers to allow for skinnier bundles to happen," Polka said.

It is only fair, he added, that cable operators have the rights to provide consumers a greater variety of programming options at a time when there is tremendous choice in online programming delivered to smartphones, tablets and laptops.

"I promise you ACA will continue to carry this message both on Pennsylvania Avenue and on Wall Street," Polka said.

This year's ACA Summit is taking place amid tremendous change in the regulatory arena managed by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, whether the issue is broadband regulation, retransmission consent reform, or media consolidation. With many good things happening, ACA members remain at the forefront of change to improve consumers' experience.

Addressing a number of regulatory matters, Polka said ACA is troubled by an FCC plan to permit consumer electronics providers to hook directly into smaller cable operators' video streams so they can sell their own cable boxes. In this battle, the opponents are some of the richest and most powerful tech companies in the world: Google, Apple and Amazon, among others.

"In a period of rampant cord cutting and trimming and an explosion in the availability of over-the-top video devices, the FCC's assessment of the market is clearly off base. ACA believes the FCC's proposal would impose significant costs on smaller cable operators, and jeopardize the security of content, the privacy of subscribers, and MVPD competition," Polka said.

ACA is working to blunt the impact of the FCC's decision to classify broadband ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Independent cable is supporting a House bill that would provide a five-year exemption for eligible ISPs - those with 250,000 subscribers or fewer - from the FCC's burdensome enhanced transparency rules applicable to broadband Internet access providers.

"This legislation tops our agenda for 2016," Polka said.

Lastly, Polka said the FCC will start a proceeding that has the potential to impose burdensome new privacy requirements on broadband providers. Aware this proceeding was coming, ACA started working last fall to make sure any new regulations are not costly and unreasonable.

The ACA Summit connects small and mid-sized cable operators serving hometown America with the country's leading lawmakers and regulators as well as media representatives who track communications policy in our nation's capital. This year's Summit coincides with important changes occurring in the regulatory arena managed by Congress and the FCC.

This signature event highlights the unique role played by nearly 750 independent cable operators in providing best-in-class communications services to millions of consumers living and working in some of the most remote areas of the country. Responding to the critical broadband infrastructure needs of rural America, ACA Members put their own capital at risk to supply the solutions.

Created as ACA emerged as a lobbying force in Washington, D.C., the ACA Summit gives independent cable operators a vehicle for framing the issues in their own words during dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill. Over the three-day event, ACA Members speak with one voice in making their views known on the diverse and complex issues they face on a daily basis.

ACA Members know they "Hold The Key To Reform!" - the theme of ACA Summit 2016  -- just as they know that success will require persistence and determination in overcoming entrenched interests that keep a tight grip on their regulatory advantages.

The ACA Summit website includes all event details. Please visit the ACA Summit 2016 website by clicking here: ACA Summit. The event is held at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 750 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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