The American Cable Association yesterday urged the FCC to freeze key regulatory fees at current levels for truly small cable operators, saying sharp fee increases under discussion would, when added to all the other government fees and mandates, deprive small cable owners of needed capital to deploy advanced services, such as high-speed Internet access, in small markets and rural areas.

The ACA asked the FCC to freeze regulatory fees at fiscal 2008 levels for cable operators with 5,000 subscribers or fewer. About three-quarters of ACA members would fall under the 5,000-or-fewer benchmark.

The FCC funds its annual operations by assessing fees on regulated entities, including the owners of small cable systems. The ACA’s support for a freeze came after the FCC proposed hiking per-subscriber cable fees by 10 percent and microwave relay licenses used primarily by cable operators by more than 25 percent.

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