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ACA's Polka Praises FCC For Warning TV Stations About Tenuous Legality Of SSA Practices
American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued a statement in response to an FCC staff ruling regarding Raycom Media's control of three Honolulu TV stations pursuant to a Shared Services Agreement with MCG Capital
"ACA is encouraged the FCC recognized that the practices of broadcasters pursuant to Shared Services Agreements (SSAs) can be at odds with the purpose and intent of the duopoly rules.
"For quite some time, ACA has pointed out that TV station owners are consolidating their operations both through legally binding agreements, like SSAs, and through informal arrangements, to gain unrivaled bargaining leverage over independent cable operators in retransmission consent negotiations, causing cable bills to go up but the quality of local TV programming, especially news, to go down. While these practices and others may mean more market power for TV stations in negotiations for broadcast carriage and advertising, they also mean station layoffs and less competition, localism and diversity for consumers.
"ACA is also pleased the FCC will take into account the duopoly rule issues the Raycom arrangement raises, and also consider within the context of individual licensing proceedings whether coordinated practices are consistent with the public interest.
"Accordingly, ACA will be encouraging its members to take detailed notes about their dealings with the station owners in markets where separately owned broadcast stations coordinate their retransmission consent negotiations. To the extent these practices are not sufficiently prohibited in either the FCC's retransmission consent rulemaking or the 2010 quadrennial review proceeding, ACA and its members will not hesitate to raise concerns about these deals when the stations seek FCC approval to renew their licenses. Sooner or later, the broadcasters will be held accountable for their fleecing of the American consumer."
About the American Cable Association:
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ACA supports independent cable operators and their customers by promoting a legislative and regulatory environment that allows for a fair and competive marketplace and by providing the tools and information our members need to compete effectively