NAB says ACA program diversity request would have ‘unfortunate exclusionary effects’

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith (Credit: NAB)

The NAB has told the FCC that a request made by the American Cable Association in regard to proposed program-diversity rules “would have clear and extremely unfortunate exclusionary effects.” 

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 said forcing smaller cable operators to bundle lightly watched channels will harm program diversity, not help it.

Poppycock! said the National Association of Broadcasters, in its own ex parte filing today. 

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.

“The survival of niche programming channels,” NAB added, “especially ones aimed at minority or non-English-speaking audiences, depends in part on their ability to reach a nationwide or near-nationwide footprint. While NAB supports efforts to help new entrants break into the pay TV programming marketplace, the Commission should be very careful that any new rules not actively harm the ability of existing niche channels to survive and thrive.

In its ex parte, ACA said it submitted evidence to the FCC “showing that large programmers impose bundling requirements that make smaller cable operators carry dozens of unwanted networks. These requirements devour limited capacity that could instead be used to carry independent programmers or increase broadband performance— thereby making access to online independent programmers more attractive.”

For more:
- read this NAB ex parte filing
- read this ACA ex parte filing

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