American Cable Association president/CEO Matt Polka told attendees of this year's Independent Cable Show on Monday that they must unite to overcome overcome the efforts of powerful special interests and to achieve the consumer-friendly reforms the ACA is seeking on Capitol Hill.
The show--hosted for the fifth time by ACA and the National Cable Television Cooperative--is being held in Baltimore this week. Polka addressed a number of issues that will have significant impact on independent cable operators going forward, including the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, retransmission consent reform, broadband reclassification and alternatives to current FCC set-top box mandates.
"On every issue we are engaged, decisions that run counter to our interests will exact a serious penalty," Polka said in his speech. "In such an environment, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the entire ACA team is pulling in the same direction and that we are capitalizing on every opportunity to win the fight before us."
Polka called for meaningful changes and/or conditions to the NBCU-Comcast merger to avoid big rate hikes and reduced competition. When it comes to retrans, polka believes the FCC also has to examine whether TV stations should be allowed to use their market power to charge small cable providers far more than they charge ACA members' direct competitors.
Polka expects the FCC will engage in closer supervision of broadband access providers, which could have serious consequences for ACA members providing expanded broadband services. On the other hand, he was optimistic and pleased that the FCC has dropped strict reliance on the expensive CableCard regime in favor of more affordable and consumer-friendly alternatives.
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