ACA’s Polka: Martin Misguided

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American Cable Association CEO Matthew M. Polka had plenty to say about the Federal Communications Commission’s decision on cable rates and local franchising.

On cable rates, Polka said, “The answer is very simple. Who controls the rates of the content on cable, satellite and telco video today? Not the operators, but the media-conglomerate programmers, whose rates and increases far exceed the data reported by the FCC on cable rates. Why are satellite’s rates the same or higher than cable’s? Why did [Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV] just announce a 7.6% increase for January?”

Polka continued, “The truth is that more competition on the retail level is not going to do anything to control or moderate consumers’ rates until something is done to control wholesale programming rates, terms and conditions forced by the big programmers onto all video platforms.”

Moving on to local franchising, the trade-group head said, “These new rules upset the balance of competition, take authority away from local governments and give the Bell companies a free pass on serving all subscribers in a market. Through these rules, the FCC is ratifying the red-lining practice of building out service in only the wealthiest areas.”

Polka concluded, “The ACA’s nearly 1,100 members in all 50 states are not giant companies that need to be regulated against to help AT&T and Verizon -- the nation’s largest telecom companies -- compete. Rather, the ACA’s members are independent providers that have worked hand-in-hand with local governments as partners to bring the highest level of advanced video, broadband and telephone services to all of our customers in our smaller markets and rural areas. It’s patently absurd that companies like Verizon and AT&T can’t compete under the same rules these smaller companies deal with everyday. But that’s the point: The big Bell companies don’t want to compete under the same rules. They want a leg up, and that’s what the FCC has given them.”

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