The American Cable Association is applauding the creation
this week of an Energy and Commerce Committee working group to promote the
rural telecom service many of its members provide.
The 18-member bipartisan group -- nine Republicans, nine Democrats
-- was launched by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio).
"From broadband access and spectrum issues, to problems with
call completion, rural areas of our districts often have unique concerns,"
said Welch in a statement. "This bipartisan working group will serve as a
forum to educate committee members on rural issues to ensure that rural
priorities are understood and addressed in the important work of this committee."
ACA is hoping the group will extend its gaze to a host of
issues of high interest to the small and midsize operators it represents,
including the cost of sports programming, program bundling and retrans.
"Matters important to cable operators in rural areas
that are deserving of the group's attention," said ACA president Matt
Polka in a statement, "include the implementation of the Connect America
Fund to fund broadband in high-cost areas; the lack of access to middle mile
infrastructure at reasonable rates; difficulties in obtaining access to pole
attachments at reasonable costs; and expeditious access to rights of way on
fair terms and conditions. Moreover, the group should consider the high
cost for smaller providers in obtaining access to programming, both local
broadcast signals and regional and national sports, and the aggregate burdens
of regulations on smaller providers."
Also on the working group are John Barrow (D-Ga.), Adam
Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Lee Terry (R-Neb.), G.K. Butterfield
(D-N.C.), H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.), Billy Long
(R-Mo.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Corey Gardner (R-Colo.), Doris Matsui
(D-Calif.), Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Brett Guthrie
(R-Ky.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
Rural telecom issues are being scrutinized on
both sides of the Hill. They
were the subject of the inaugural hearing in the new Communications
Subcommittee last week.