ACA Readies Ops For Dealing With Broadcasters

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Orlando – The Independent Show aims to give small and medium-sized cable operators a prep course for dealing with broadcasters on retransmission consent and the digital TV transition next February, according to the head of the lobbying group for the companies.

“At this show, the theme I guess -- if there’s a theme of sorts -- is one of engagement: What do we need to provide our members at this event so they can be fully engaged and prepared for the next six to 12 months that will help them through their retransmission consent negotiations, as well as their transition to digital television,” Matt Polka, president and CEO of the American Cable Association, said during an interview late last week.

The ACA and the National Cable Television Cooperative are holding their joint annual meeting here in Orlando, with sessions and panels from Monday through Wednesday.

The message from the ACA and NCTC at the confab is that independent operators need to band, and stand, together.

“In fact, this year, perhaps more than any other, the entire industry must pool its collective knowledge, resources, and resolve to ensure any one of several issues does not interfere with our members’ mission of serving the millions of cable customers that rely on their local independent cable operator for essential services,” Polka said in a statement.

“Quite frankly, the value of the lessons we learn from one another this week will be obvious in the coming months,” Polka said. “I cannot imagine a better opportunity for independent cable operators to demonstrate their unity and commitment to their subscribers than this show.”

Polka and NCTC president Jeff Abbas discussed their goals for the show, and they decided that a key objective was providing members with “the information they need to be ahead of the curve as much as possible the ever the next six to 12 months,” according to Polka.

At the show, the ACA is handling several panels, which will update its members on its efforts in Washington, in terms of retransmission consent, the tying and bundling of programming and the digital TV transition.

Polka will also be helming a session that features David Donovan, president of the Association for Maximum Television Service, to discuss how cable operators and broadcasters need to coordinate their effort to help streamline the digital transition process next year, Polka said.

The ACA is also looking to talk to its members about the new and improved web site it plans to launch, Polka said. The revamped site will have more interactive functions, permitting ACA members and their customers “to be more engaged on all the issues,” according to Polka.   

“We’re trying to go a step farther and provide more direct connectivity, so our members from a grass-roots perspective and their customers can link directly to their Congressmen and Senators,” Polka said.

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