Small cable continues fight to throttle Comcast-NBC merger

The American Cable Association wants some guarantees that a merged Comcast-NBC Universal won't spell doom--or at least severe hardship--for its members. The organization's leadership made that clear during speeches and conversations at this week's ACA Summit in Washington.

"Without reasonable regulatory constraints, this integration of NBCU with the programming of Comcast is a threat to consumers and competition," Steve Friedman, the ACA's chairman said during a keynote address. At another point, ACA board member Colleen Abdoulah, CEO of WOW!, revealed that the organization has met with Comcast to air its concerns--most recently in February--and on the whole the meetings were "cordial ... nothing was decided; nothing was promised."

Also on the ACA docket, David Donovan, head of the Association for Maximum Service Television, described the dangers for small cable operators if the FCC takes an additional 120 MHz of broadcaster spectrum. If accomplished, he said, the move would affect close to 700 stations and would create problems for small cable operators receiving off-air signals for retransmission.

In a recent conversation with FierceCable, Donovan said broadcasters spent a year with the cable industry "coordinating on the DTV transition" and was surprised at how many systems get broadcast signals over-the-air. If broadcasters are forced onto undesirable spectrum, he said, cable operators, particularly in more rural areas "are going to be in serious trouble because the bottom line is I have no choice but to start reducing service contours."

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