Friday, June 1, 2007

TelCos and the Myth of Competition

A Franchise of Deception. (Freepress)

In the past two years telephone companies have rushed to introduce national and statewide video franchising legislation around the country to better position themselves as cable TV providers. Having failed last year in Congress to buy favorable national legislation, the telcos have now turned to the states for the regulatory edge they seek. Thus far 14 states have passed statewide video franchise bills, beginning with Texas back in 2005.

The elusive telco goal is ‘triple play’, a combination of three communications services (phone, data and pay TV) rolled into one marketing gimmick — and more importantly an airtight one-year contract at the now predictable introductory $99 monthly rate.

A brief look at state video franchise titles speaks volumes on the creative writing intentions of the authors. What politician could possibly vote against legislation with such egalitarian well intentioned titles? Of course, few elected officials actually read these mammoth bills anyway, most never get past the bill summaries which are often as fictitious as the titles. It’s just surprising that “Patriotism” wasn’t somehow worked into one these bill titles:

Consumer Choice Act of 2007 — FL
Consumer Choice for Television Act — GA
Cable and Video Competition Law of 2007 — IL
Consumer Choice and Competition for Cable Service Act — MA
Minnesota Video Competition Act — MN
Competitive Cable and Video Services Act — TN
The Colorado Consumer Cable Act — CO

More accurate titles would be:
The Elimination of the Public Interest Act
Loss of Local Media Services Act
Loss of Right of Way Act
Not Available in ‘Their’ Neighborhood Cable Act
We’ll Raise Your Rates Too Cable Act

When in Doubt — Pay Out
Suddenly my $99 Qwest bundle doesn't seem so apealing.


  1. This is the kind of thing I would expect of the Utah Legislature. Cater to big business at all costs. I think it is a left over from the days when mormons loved up the federal government just to keep from going to jail.