CABLE WORLD STAFF To the Editor: Thank you for your story (“Retrans Consent Deals Get Tougher Every Day,” Feb. 10), which shows how media conglomerates use current retransmission consent rules to the detriment of consumers in smaller markets and to their providers — generally, smaller independent cable businesses. The American Cable Association is in favor of policy changes that would eliminate or severely curb the leverage exerted by media conglomerates through retransmission consent and put more power of choice into the hands of consumers and their providers. This, we believe, can be accomplished, among many ways, through a revision of current network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules, which currently give media conglomerates monopoly market protection to then extort fees from consumers through cash-for-carriage and tying and bundling of affiliated programming services. The ACA stated in recent reply comments in the FCC’s media ownership proceeding that such market-protection rules should be eliminated in cases where media conglomerates seek retransmission consent in a local broadcast market. Similarly, the ACA is considering other legislative and regulatory initiatives to address these inequities in the marketplace. One such idea would simply eliminate retransmission consent in favor of analog must-carry of the local broadcast signal. Our view is that if carriage of the local broadcast signal is what is most important to broadcasters, then this change shouldn’t be a problem. However, ACA does not support digital must-carry. It has always been the position of the ACA and its members to support a reasonable transition to digital that takes into account the unique circumstances of smaller markets and rural areas, but does not require digital must-carry in any form. My comments in your story concerning retransmission consent and must-carry were directed only to current analog carriage rules, but not to digital. I apologize for any misunderstanding of this position.
Matthew M. Polka
American Cable Association
Pittsburgh, Pa.
To the Editor: I am responding to the Ed-Op you wrote in the Jan. 6 issue of Cable World re: Fox News. You were right when you wrote, “I could be wrong.” You sure are. It’s not the message, it is the messenger. On Saturday 2/01/03 my fiancé was flipping through the channels to find out further information about the space shuttle Columbia. We ended up on Fox for a split second as the commentator was droning on and on about how this tragedy was so sad for George Bush and that the president had “gone through a lot.” I’d love to know the hardships President Bush endured. If you’re going to make claims like this, you need to back them up. As an adult whose father passed away recently, I certainly understand how the families of the astronauts felt. On the contrary, Fox News Channel takes real news and demeans it to soap opera-level gossip. I don’t understand how you could possibly equate “family values” to this melodramatic drivel. I also don’t understand how you can live with yourself by implying that liberals are too “post-modern” to have family values. That is just plain offensive. To address your other completely misguided implication; that the Republicans are far more unified than the Democrats. To be honest with you, all of the Republican women I know are thoroughly disgusted with the right-wingers who infringe on their personal rights on reproductive issues. There is a huge divide in the GOP. Many people vote Republican due to tax breaks or other money issues, but these people are not conservative. They want birth control, separation of church and state and various other “liberal” ideas. You are not only wrong, but also extremely insulting, just like the Fox messengers. They spew words without thinking, and I believe you have as well. Next time you decide to try to pummel the liberals, think about the industry you work in.
Caroline Gartner
Associate Producer
HBR advertising
New York, N.Y.

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