The American Cable Association has defended its position on an FCC program diversity proposal, calling an NAB ex parte attack made earlier today suggesting the cable lobby is actually promoting segregation “highly misleading.”
“ACA made a simple point,” President and CEO Matthew Polka said in an email to FierceCable. “Overall diversity increases when individual small cable operators can choose the programming that best serves their particular local audiences (like independent Spanish-language programming in Puerto Rico). And overall diversity decreases when big conglomerates can force their national networks upon local audiences that may not want them (like the Esquire Network in some rural areas). Nothing about this position should surprise broadcasters -- who, after all, have a rule allowing them to reject unwanted network programming.”
Earlier today, the National Association of Broadcasters published an ex parte response to a filing made by ACA last week.
The FCC is currently looking at ways to force pay-TV operators into channel selections that serve a greater range of ethnic and cultural diversity. In an ex parte filing made late last week, the ACA forcing smaller cable operators to bundle lightly watched channels will harm program diversity, not help it.
The ACA’s request, NAB said, “should concern the commission that its otherwise good intentions could be exploited by pay-TV providers to target their programming channels in a manner more profitable for them but less diverse for consumers. ACA’s proposal appears to suggest, for example, that a Bounce TV multicast channel or a cable network such as TVOne would only be welcome on a system with a large number of African-American subscribers. Or perhaps that Myx TV shouldn’t be seen outside areas with large Asian-American populations, or that Spanish-language programmers should be stymied in their efforts to introduce new channels. Undoubtedly, these outcomes are not in the public interest.”