ACA Fires Back at NAB Over Exclusivity

The war of words between cable operators and broadcasters (and the government) over carriage and exclusivity issues continued apace Thursday, with the American Cable Association responding to the National Association of Broadcasters, which invoked ACA in its response to an FCC blog on exclusivity rules.

Following FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake's blog calling for an end to the syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication rules, which FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed, the National Association of Broadcasters fired back Wednesday in a blog by NAB executive Rick Kaplan. He said Lake was trying to rewrite history with a fatally flawed attempt to defend the chairman and reverse "the palpable lack of enthusiasm for the Chairman’s plan."

He also, almost as a throwaway line at the end, said that "even the American Cable Association (ACA) only supports the change insofar as it leads to the Commission outlawing exclusive broadcaster arrangements altogether."

ACA begged to differ, and said so in a statement Thursday.

“ACA believes is it important to point out that NAB mistakes ACA’s position in its blog -- namely, that the FCC should outlaw exclusivity arrangements entered into through private contract altogether," said ACA president Matthew Polka. "ACA’s position has always been that should the FCC repeal the exclusivity rules, it should seek to protect traditionally offered out-of-market stations, like significantly viewed stations, at the same time, and does not need to limit other types of exclusivity arrangements."

Polka took his criticism a step further. "Such a blatant mistake warrants policymakers who read the NAB blog to fact-check all of NAB’s claims in the blog to make sure they are not also mischaracterized.” 

“Facts are stubborn things," said NAB spokesperson Dennis Wharton. "Instead of engaging in doublespeak, if ACA simply reviewed the record it would realize that it or its lawyers absolutely have asked the Commission to bar all forms of exclusivity contracts. ACA is either suffering from short-term memory loss or presenting disingenuous arguments to the Commission.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.