AT & T raises U-Verse TV rates. So much for those franchise reform laws!

By Mauro DePasquale, Executive Director, WCCA TV-13

Not long ago, and it seems every now and then, the telecoms and cable companies lobby government to manipulate legislators to enhance their own ability to corner the market. For instance: Using misinformation by suggesting local cable franchise regulations curtail competition, when it doesn’t. Competition itself does not guarantee lower rates either (e.g. why is the cost of gas for your car going up when there is a gas station on nearly every block in some areas for example?). It is also simply a lie to say that public access TV or PEG centers cause rate hikes or that they depend on city tax money.

Companies like Verizon, l AT & T and others lobbied hard to eliminate “locally controlled” (City) franchise authority and locally determined regulations. Luckily for all of us, they were not successful in Massachusetts. For a few other states it’s an unfortunate, different story. By moving local franchise authority to state controlled, where they can perhaps take the local community input further away from the process. Claiming it would reduce rates when, over the long term, it would not. The only thing we would end up with, if such a case were successful, would be higher rates and no public access. I see no win there – unless you’re a CEO for one of those companies.

In a few states they were successful in moving to state controlled franchising. Their argument was basically based on the lie that PEG centers would still be funded and that state controls would make for a quicker expedition of the franchising process, and that it would lead to better price rates for their so-called customers.

What it really accomplished was giving the phone companies a way to quickly bypass opportunities for the local communities to express their needs and more. They severely underfunded public access centers. It lead to the nearly immediate closing of public access centers (meaning less voice for the people, less local media coverage, less affordable outreach less educational journalism and TV production classes, less government and educational transparency, less inclusiveness in those impacted areas), it also lead to INCREASED prices.

Public Access Television does not rely upon “TAX” money. It is not funded with government (federal, state or city) money. Cable Franchise regulations do not control content on the public access channels. Cable Franchise regulations meet community needs. The benefits of Public Access television serve to foster diversity, divergent thinking, collaborations, community partnerships, critical and creative action, community participation and individual empowerment through electronic media, all together to build community, a return worth millions of dollars in media benefits and community programming. Without investing one single tax dollar, building bridges and tearing down walls. WCCA TV 13 is not just a TV station – it is a community resource.

Leave a Reply