ACA, lawmakers hammer away at set-top proposal burden on small MSOs

Continuing to make the case that the FCC's "Unlock the Box" set-top proposal will do great harm to smaller MSOs, the American Cable Association met with FCC Media Bureau officials this week, while Republican and Democratic lawmakers made statements on the House floor. 

Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who last month co-authored a letter to the FCC, along with legislator Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), noting the threat of the NPRM to smaller operators, said on Tuesday that if "continued modernization in the video industry is the FCC's goal, then Chairman [Tom] Wheeler's proposed rule imposing new government regulations on small businesses is the worst way to innovate."

"It is estimated that the set-top box rules could cost $1 million or more per system," he added. "That's $2 million not spent on building out broadband to rural areas, $1 million not spent on increasing internet speeds." 

Also speaking on the House floor, Schrader added, "It is inconceivable to me that the FCC would propose new rules and seek to impose new regulation without fully understanding the economic impacts of their actions — especially when it comes to many small rural providers in my district."

The remarks came after the ACA and representatives from some of its member companies, led by Ross Lieberman, senior VP of government affairs for the lobbying org, delivered a presentation to FCC staff. 

The ACA members rejected an FCC plan to give smaller cable operators time to comply with the set-top regulations, should they be adopted. 

"Providing smaller MVPDs a fixed amount of additional time to comply with the commission's proposal instead of adopting ACA's proposed relief will not mitigate the impact of the proposal on these operators," ACA said in an ex parte filing, detailing the meeting.

"Due to decreasing video margins, and the uncertainty over when and by how much the costs for smaller MVPDs to comply will decrease over time, these operators may be less able to comply with the commission's proposal by the delayed compliance date than they are today," ACA added. "Moreover, delayed compliance will not solve the problem of financial institutions' interest and ability to change the rates, terms, and conditions of existing loans, nor their unwillingness to grant additional credit stemming from the set-top box mandate."

For more:
- watch this statement from North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer

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