'Classroom' Shift Riles Indies

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The prospect of small cable companies' losing access to Cable in the Classroom educational aid is being addressed by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and officials said they're hopeful a solution can be reached.

A recent requirement that a cable operator be an NCTA member in order to continue to receive Cable in the Classroom resources prompted an outcry by some small operators that don't want to pay or can't afford NCTA dues.

On Friday, officials at CIC and National Cable Television Cooperative (which collects and sends member funds earmarked for the educational organization) said the NCTA and CIC were revisiting the requirement. Although operating independently, the non-profit CIC has been under the NCTA's administrative umbrella since 2001.

“We are firmly committed to providing educational resources and services to the entire cable industry,” CIC executive director Dr. Helen Soule said in a statement.

NCTC CEO Mike Pandzik said it was likely “an unintended consequence of the proposal” and that Barbara York, NCTA senior vice president and chief administrative officer of industry affairs and administration, was tackling the issue. She was on vacation late last week and an NCTA staffer deferred questions to CIC.

Officials at CIC and NCTC declined to discuss how many operators might be affected, the fees involved or when the flow of CIC materials would stop, absent a resolution. The NCTA's Web site states that the organization counts operator members that reach more than 90% of cable subscribers.

“We are revisiting the membership dues structure and working toward determining how to accommodate all cable companies,” CIC public-affairs director Carol Vernon said. “There has been some confusion and we hope to clarify things in the next few weeks.”