Thursday, April 05, 2007

TV 4 Them

In a blog posting last week, we pointed out AT&T's sudden interest in making campaign contributions to certain state lawmakers who will play key roles in deciding the fate of cable TV deregulation legislation the company sorely wants passed. The March 29 blog also highlighted the involvement of a Washington, D.C.-based bill mill in the development of the cable franchising proposal.

Campaign contributions are only one way AT&T is seeking to influence the outcome of the debate over this controversial legislation seeking to take decisions about community cable TV service out of the hands of local elected officials. The telecommunications giant also has 15 lobbyists working the halls of the State Capitol, and is leading a coalition called TV4US that is doing heavy television advertising across Wisconsin to build public support for the bill.

Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy recently posted an item on their excellent SourceWatch site about TV4US.

1 comment:

John Foust said...

A piece in the Sheboygan paper shows a clue about why AT&T likes this bill. As they did in Milwaukee, AT&T says they're not "cable" because they're using "Internet protocol" to send their video. There's a clause in the bill that exempts any company from this new law if they are using "Internet protocol" to transmit its video.

Regardless of which protocol a company happens to use, I think it's more reasonable to remind people of the benefits of local control over placement of any wires in the local right-of-way. State-level franchising eliminates the right of your local City Hall to control where AT&T puts its closet-sized boxes in your neighborhood.

Through this lens, you can see why decades of telecom court decisions found it reasonable for cities to be able to ask for benefits in exchange for private companies profiting from the use of public right-of-ways.