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Cable Industry Lobbyist Proclaims Cable TV Industry 'Failing' While Advocating Against Broadband Consumer Rights


I'll forgive our dear readers if they don't have the name Matthew Polka floating in their memories right at this moment. As a refresher, he's the CEO of American Cable Association, the lobbying group that represents smaller cable and broadband providers. One would think that a group like this would be very interested in breaking up the near-monopolies held by the larger players in this industry and fostering more competition within the marketplace, except that Polka has literally said the opposite. The ACA has also been involved in battles against any sort of regulation in the broadband industry, against privacy rules with any real teeth, and against the plan to require cable companies to open service to third-party cable boxes.

And in some respects on those last points, I get it. Hey, the ACA is lobbying for its member clients, not for the American people. Even as Polka has made noise about how great non-competition would be for America, everyone knew that was silly. What he says is clearly crafted to make his cable company clients as happy as possible, obviously.

The cable TV business is in trouble—in fact, it is "failing" as a business due to rising programming costs and consumers switching from traditional TV subscriptions to online video streaming, according to a cable lobbyist group.

"As a business, it is failing," said Matthew Polka, CEO of the American Cable Association (ACA). "It is very, very difficult for a cable operator in many cases to even break even on the cable side of the business, which is why broadband is so important, giving consumers more of a choice that we can't give them on cable [TV]."

Well, that's certainly different. These comments by Polka about how the cable television industry is failing differ from the doom-and-gloom sideshow too often pitched as a reason for cable companies to not do all sorts of things that would benefit customers. Instead, Polka's tone appears to be sincere on this point: the cable television industry, as we have come to know it, is in its death throes. Given cord-cutting and a new customer adoption rate that has been falling in the younger generations, it's refreshing to hear a cable lobbyist come out and admit all of this.

The problem is that when you square this with the other point he made -- the importance of broadband -- a shiver bolts down the spine.

That's one reason cable companies in the ACA see broadband as "their future," Polka said. A cable company executive who appeared alongside Polka on the C-SPAN show echoed those comments.

Video is "certainly our worst product," said Tom Larsen, senior VP of government and public relations for cable company Mediacom. "It makes the least amount of money."

Larsen and Polka both praised the FCC's new Republican leadership for taking a deregulatory approach to broadband.

This, of course, refers in part to the gutting of net neutrality, the death of which is being to served to the American public by the same new leadership Polka is so happy to praise. It should be immediately clear what the ACA is hoping for when you take into account the sum of its previous stances, nearly all of which have been de facto anti-competition, as well as this newfound full focus on the broadband portion of its members' services. It expects to be able to strangle the ISP industry in the same way its anti-competitive practices helped pave the way for cable providers being unable to respond to customer demands.


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