For many small, independent business owners, longevity is as much an affirmation of success as profit.
Faced with rising costs and unrelenting competition, compounded by a lack of market influence, the sad truth is more small businesses fail than succeed.
This stark reality makes the success of independent cable operators over the past 15 years a remarkable story.
It’s a story we plan to tell repeatedly this week on Capitol Hill when the American Cable Association hosts its 15th annual Summit in Washington D.C.
Working with ACA since its inception in 1993—and president since 1997—I have taken part in all 14 previous annual meetings, each a bigger success than the one before.
With each Summit, participation has increased, the discussions and information have become more valuable, and above all else, ACA’s collective strength has grown.
This year will be no exception.
More than any time since the 1992 Cable Act and FCC rate re-regulation that led to the founding of ACA, our industry is at a crossroads.
From the beginning, our mission has been the same—the preservation of the independent cable industry.
And together we have fought off every threat, beat back crippling legislation, and given our members and their customers a voice.
And while the challenges we face have grown in number and potential impact, as this year’s Summit will show, we are up to the challenge.
The ACA has evolved from a reactive group putting out fires in Washington, D.C., to a proactive advocate for our members and their customers.
In 2008, that advocacy will include combating skyrocketing retransmission fees, seeking a must-carry exemption for smaller operators, and addressing tying and bundling in a way that makes sense for operators and their customers.
Retransmission consent is a government-created rule that must be changed by the government for the sake of our customers.
Today, we are at the mercy of a broadcast industry exploiting the market power it has gained through federal rules and regulations to increase revenue from retransmission fees by more than 20% in the past year alone.
Uncertainty surrounding the pending Digital TV transition has placed a unique burden on independent cable operators.
Higher costs for the deployment of duplicative broadcast programming and the use of valuable bandwidth and limited system capacity threatens the future of hundreds of small systems. A reasonable, logical exemption process needs to be established—now.
Lastly, consumers continue to pay the price when programmers leverage their market power to make consumers pay for high-cost, niche programming.
We will fight to give our members more flexibility, and to help the FCC realize that a tying-and-bundling rulemaking can be a catalyst for consumer benefits, more diverse programming, and the deployment of broadband services.
ACA’s members are the best the industry has to offer. The issues of the media titans too often drive the policy discussion in Washington. Truthfully, it is difficult for smaller companies and the customers they serve to be noticed.
That is why we exist. To GO THE DISTANCE and tell our members’ unique story.