American Cable Association backs Local Television Freedom Act

Wed, 07/15/2009 - 8:20am
Mike Robuck

The American Cable Association has thrown its weight behind the proposed legislation that would give satellite and cable subscribers across the nation access to their in-state news, sports and local programming.

Yesterday, Rep. Mike Ross (R-Ark.) introduced the Local Television Freedom Act, which would allow ACA members, among other video providers, to provide their customers with information transmitted by broadcast stations located in the same state but not inside the same designated market area (DMA) boundary as defined by The Nielsen Co.

"ACA applauds Rep. Ross for pursuing with conviction an issue that would provide great consumer benefits not only for his constituents, but also for millions of voters in many congressional districts across the country. In today's day and age, it's undemocratic to maintain regulations that block consumer access to in-state news, local emergency alerts, local public service messages, local political and issue advertising, local sports and local commercials," said ACA President and CEO Matt Polka. "Rep. Ross has identified one of the biggest problems with our overly regulated television market system – namely, that some consumers are unable to receive television stations from their own state.

“It's an issue of localism that cable operators hear about from their customers, as well. Cable has the technological ability to solve this problem, and we are pleased to be part of the solution in Rep. Ross' bill."

Because of the current laws, some subscribers can’t receive the local channels of the state in which they live and work. In addition, 47 percent of DMAs nationwide cross a state line, which means that millions of subscribers are left watching the local channels of their neighboring state.

“The time has come to stop delivering 21st century technologies with 1950’s business practices,” Ross said in a statement. “Americans should not be bound by outdated laws that prevent them from receiving their home state programming.”

Ross also said The Local Television Freedom Act of 2009 will bring the DMA system and the Satellite Home Viewer Act into the 21st century. If it passes, the legislation would give satellite and cable companies the ability to provide subscribers not only the local channels within their DMA, but also the local channels of an adjacent in-state DMA.

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