Rebranded American Communications Association Focuses on STELAR at Summit Opening

The “independent broadband” group formerly known as the American Cable Association has joined the exodus of trade groups abandoning the term “cable” and has become the American Communications Association, ACA president Matt Polka revealed in the opening moments of the ACA Summit in Washington on Wednesday. He said that the group will use the branding slogan “ACA Connects,” and he told the assembled membership that, “We are your advocate who will continue to tell your story” as he pep-talked the group in preparation for Capitol Hill visits the following day.

Polka then introduced a pre-recorded interview with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), a member of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Polka pointed out that Scalise has been developing a Next Generation TV Act since 2011, focused on updating the 1992 law that governs cable policy.

Related: ACA Summit: Small Systems Are Big Players in D.C.

“Our video laws are so outdated,” Scalise said. “The marketplace has changed so dramatically since 1992. You’ve got to compete with these other platforms.” He lamented “so many laws” that are no longer workable in the current environment.

Responding to Polka’s query about retransmission consent reform, Scalise said his proposed legislation “would bring this back the traditional copyright law which lets everyone be compensated for their content.” He cited sports rights, noting that “The rules are completely different for other platforms,” a reference to the streaming video systems that are increasingly carrying sports events. “It is not a fair negotiation” Scalise said. “Let’s get back to plain contract negotiations. ”

Since Congress is on recess this week, the pre-recorded Scalise was the only Member of Congress on ACA’s program this year, compared to the gaggle of Congress members in recent years.

Turning to the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR), Scalise observed that it has to be reevaluated every five years, while the underlying cable laws are permanent. He launched from that into his goal of “modernizing all our video laws” but offered no other details about the timetable for this year’s process. During other on-stage discussions, a schedule emerged of possible House consideration of STELAR in late spring or early summer. The opening ACA session also honored C-SPAN with the “ACA Partnership Award,” recognizing its 40 anniversary this week. Polka said “we are forever grateful” for the role that C-SPAN has played and thanked “our own cable TV industry” which he said deserves the most credit, for supporting its growth. In accepting the award, C-SPAN co-president Susan Swain described the network’s future plans.
“We want to make sure we use this important milestone [for] future unfiltered access to Washington,” she said. Swain emphasized that C-SPAN’s programs will emphasize what “differentiates what we offer. You ought to take that opportunity to tell that story.”

Gary Arlen

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.