Connecting and Moving Forward

Matt Polka, President & CEO of ACA Connects, provides highlights of some of the issues discussed on a panel he moderated at Calix’s 2019 ConneXions. Featuring ACA’s legal counsel, Tom Cohen, and NTCA’s VP of Industry Affairs and Business Development, this panel looked at the issues broadband operators face in Washington D.C. Polka focuses on a couple of these issues in the above interview.

Polka explains the ACA/CCA/Charter-led proposal (PDF) to repurpose the C-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 GHz) for 5G use while simultaneously extending fiber backbones to rural locales. He contrasts that with the competing approach from the C-Band Alliance, which is comprised of satellite operators, which had originally proposed a private auction for a portion of the C-Band spectrum. With FCC Chair Pai’s November 18th, 2019 letter (PDF) announcing that he would be proposing a public auction for the spectrum in the FCC’s December 2019 meeting, it looks like the approach advocated by ACA and its allies will prevail.

The conversation then moves to retransmisson consent of broadcast television channels. Polka points out that 2019 has seen more “blackouts” of broadcast television programming than at any time. He talks about the importance of Congress reauthorizing STELAR (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization) to ensure that his members can continue to deliver broadcast television to rural parts of America. Polka emphasizes that ACA members need the help of buying groups, such as NCTC, to negotiate with much larger broadcasting groups and would like to see STELAR reauthorization include such provisions.

The 2019 version of STELAR is working its way through the House of Representatives as (H.R. 5035), the Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 and in the Senate via legislation (STAR – Satellite Television Access Reauthorization) proposed by Senator Wicker. In a pre-Thanksgiving speech, Wicker pleaded with his fellow Senators to work with the House of Representatives to use the remaining ten-legislative days to renew STELAR.

Polka expresses support for the Modern Television Act of 2019 by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), which is a more comprehensive approach to updating legislation around broadcast television programming. He is hopeful that, as senior members of the Energy and Commerce who are often diametrically opposed on many issues, elements of their bipartisan legislation are, at a minimum, integrated into STELAR reauthorization.

Both Eshoo and Scalise have been guest speakers at previous ACA Connects events. Polka ends the interview with a brief summary of the theme 2020 ACA Summit.

[Note: This video brought to you by Calix and was filmed at the 2017 Calix Connexions Conference].

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