ACA Faithful Hope to Sway Legislators

Cord-cutting, light-touch regulation, rural broadband on agenda at D.C. Policy Summit

Sometimes a cable bundle can be too big.

The Frankfort Plant Board provides several services for the city of Frankfort, Ky., and surrounding areas, including cable, broadband, telephone, security, electric and water.

"And it's all on one bill," said John Higginbotham, the assistant general manager of the Frankfort Plant Board, on a panel at the American Cable Association's 24th Summit in Washington, D.C..

Given the cost of programming in general, not to mention retransmission-consent fees, particularly for midsize cable operators, Frankfort, which does not subsidize its video product, tallied 353 non-pay disconnects recently.

The erosion of video subscribers was just one of the topics discussed as the ACA faithful and members of the National Cable Television Cooperative descend on Washington for their annual policy summit. Indeed, some cable operators, such as Cable One, have abandoned the marketing of video services because of high costs, and instead focus exclusively on broadband and phone.

Policy dominated the conversations as legislators and lawyers spoke to the group, giving some hope of reducing the regulatory burden on small and midsized cable operators. ACA president Matt Polka applauded legislators' pomise of a light touch in regulation.

"For each regulation that is rolled back, there will be more investment in rural broadband," he said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said she expects the Senate Commerce Committee to tackle infrastructure as part of its agenda, and that funding will include broadband projects.

And FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly said he hopes the agency will reconsider the decision to reclassify broadband Internet access to make it subject to Title II regulation.

After a keynote speech expected from FCC chairman Ajit Pai this morning, members have scheduled meetings with legislators today to get traction on several issues, including relief from onerous regulations and burdens on smaller operators, help on pole fees and rights of way, and a more efficient use of funds to pay for broadband deployment in unserved areas.