The Montana Cable Telecommunications Association is disbanding after 60 years of advocating for the interests of cable television operators.
The board of directors for the Montana Cable Telecommunications Association voted to disband earlier this month.
"Well, I would’ve voted right along with the rest of them," says Tom Glendenning, who, due to his position as the group’s secretary and treasurer for over 40 years, wasn’t able to vote.
Glendenning says it made more financial sense for regional cable providers to withdraw from the group than stay in it and pay dues for services like lobbying in Helena and legal advice.
"They were losing customers and not getting rid of any expenses," he says.
The association represented cable providers in areas like Lincoln and Circle, that Glendenning says are too remote and sparsely-populated to attract the business of national providers.
Recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that most households still subscribe to cable or satellite programming, but that viewers are quickly moving to online video.
Glendenning says that cable in Montana isn’t going anywhere, it’s just moving towards internet-based options. Even he admits he streams some of his TV over the internet.
That said, Montanans only have about half of the access to multiple broadband providers that other Americans do. That’s according to a national survey by the Federal Communications Commission. Democratic Senator Jon Tester has publicly stated the FCC overestimates rural broadband access.
He and Republicans Senator Steve Daines and Representative Greg Gianforte are all working to pass federal legislation to improve rural access to broadband.
Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America Corps Member.