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Small Cable Ops to FCC: Attention Must Be Paid - Broadcasting & Cable

Small Cable Ops to FCC: Attention Must Be Paid

Says video competition report should drill down into closures of smaller systems
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Small cable operators want the FCC to make
sure when it considers the state of competition in its next marketplace report,
it get a better handle on who is no longer around to compete.

In
comments on the FCC's next video competition report, the American Cable
Association has asked the FCC to do a more "granular" analysis on the
increase in small cable operators who have had to close their doors.

"The
FCC has data showing that the number of cable systems has significantly
decreased over the past five years," said ACA President/CEO Matt Polka.
"ACA believes that this trend reveals significant problems in the market
for the delivery of video programming, particularly for smaller multichannel
video programming distributors serving smaller markets and rural areas,"
said Polka.

The
FCC data, says ACA, shows that since October 2005, the number of cable systems
has declined 26% from 7,208 to 5,312), and that for the smallest systems -- those
under 10,000 subs -- that percentage drop is even greater. 

According
to National Cable Television Cooperative data, says ACA, over the past five
years, 793 small and rural cable system members serving a total of more than
35,000 customers have closed, most because they ceased service rather than,
say, consolidating operations.

Together,
says ACA, the numbers add up to a decrease in smaller cable operators that the
FCC should break out from its report on the overall decrease in systems, saying
it could be a an early warning sign, the canary in the headend, as it were, of
problems for larger systems.

Polka
also says that no FCC video competition report will be complete without
"all available data and information pertaining to the practice of
coordinated retransmission consent negotiations by non-commonly owned TV
stations operating in the same market."

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