Cable regulation - A Chicago Media Action response in the Chicago Tribune

Posted by Mitchell - May 8, 2007 (entry 541)

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune.

Cable regulation

The Tribuneís May 1 editorial "Bring on cable competition" adopts the enthusiastic tone of AT&Tís advertising campaign when extolling the virtues of cable competition. But the Tribune does nothing to prove its contention that in other states, lower cable TV prices and a faster rollout of high-speed broadband service from cable providers has resulted.

In fact much has been written about the extremely slow deployment of AT&Tís U-verse television system. In the 19 months since AT&T signed its first statewide deal, there are only 20,000 subscribers to the U-verse service nationwide. And once introductory rates are removed from the calculation, there is little evidence that lower rates have resulted from AT&Tís appearance in the market.

The Tribune also fails to give serious consideration to the public cost of legislation driven by a corporation attempting to serve its own interests. Build-out requirements have been a historic part of cable regulation to make sure everyone in a community is served. But AT&T has no intention of building out 100 percent of the market. Choice will only come to those customers it chooses.

In a number of states, including most recently in Georgia and Missouri, AT&T-backed legislation will permanently reduce or end funding for public, education and governmental access channels. The peopleís voice will be silenced. And AT&Tís stockholders will get a few extra pennies in their pockets.

Illinois lawmakers need to give considered attention to sweeping telecommunications changes that will dismantle a franchising framework that has been working for decades to protect local communities. Illinois cannot afford to allow the evisceration of the public interest that has taken place in laws rammed through other states by AT&T.

The Tribune rightly calls for legislators to "peer through the thicket of lobbyists on this legislation and create fair competition." But in order to best serve the public, lawmakers must demand legislation that does not line one industryís pockets at the publicís expense. In the aftermath of electrical deregulation, Illinois has been there, done that.

Mitchell Szczepanczyk
Chicago Media Action
Chicago

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this website are those of the individual members of Chicago Media Action who authored them, and not necessarily those of the entire membership of Chicago Media Action, nor of Chicago Media Action as an organization.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.