ACA asks FCC to use Section 706 to curb rising program costs

The American Cable Association continues to hammer away on the notion that cable companies can improve broadband services if they're relieved from the burden of spiraling programming costs.

On Tuesday, the ACA once again asked the FCC to use Section 706 and other provisions of the Communications Act to curb increases in program licensing fees rendered onto cable operators by content providers.

"If current trends continue, already high video programming fees will continue to escalate, causing the margins from traditional pay-TV service for smaller cable operators to shrink and then dry up within five years," wrote ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission.

"The FCC must use its power to restore some semblance of sanity to the out-of-control video content market or broadband investment will suffer," Polka added.

On its Section 706 report to Congress, the FCC said advanced telecommunications services aren't being deployed to Americans fast enough. The FCC has asked for public comment on how to fix the situation, and the ACA has, of course, enthusiastically complied.

Here are a few of the cable lobbying group's suggestions:

> Update program access rules so that MVPD buying groups, like the National Cable Television Cooperative, have recourse to gripe to the government if they feel a programmer imposes "discriminatory rates, terms and conditions."

> End the ability of broadcasters to black out their signals when retrans renewal negotiations reach impasse.

> Adopt rules to limit forced program bundling.

"Under Sec. 706, the FCC is directed to take immediate action when it finds that deployment of advanced telecommunications capability is not reasonable and timely," the ACA stated. "Thus, the agency has both the authority and charge to address the potential harm to broadband deployment caused by high and increasing video programming costs."

For more:
- see this ACA press release

Related links:
ACA to FCC: Want better broadband? Help us control video programming costs
ACA looking to go it alone as it pursues litigation against FCC on Title II plan
ACA's Lieberman ponders new kind of blackout: Will CBS block operators' broadband access?