The Issues and the Players

This information on this page is for archival purposes. Though the COPE Bill passed in the House, the Senate version of the bill stalled and never became federal law. The greatest threats to PEG today come from State Video Franchises and the recent FCC Rulings which are still pending.

Our Legislative Theater
political theater as public tragedy

In the theater that is Congress there are many players and though the scripts may be rewritten by the corporate sponsors, the roles seldom change. Here, we offer background for the new play currently called Telecom Reform. Yes, once again it's a public tragedy, a restaging of the previous production from 1996.

The last time 'Telecom' played in Congress was in 1996 for the passage of The Telecommunications Act of '96. By the time the commercial media informed the public of this legislation, it was already a done deal. The Congressional chorus sang of more competition, more consumer choices, more jobs and lower prices - the reality was quite different.

The public was told the '96 Telecom Act would "create 1.4 million jobs and increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product by as much as $2 trillion. But by 2003, elected officials were referring to a $2 trillion dollar loss in the marketplace value of companies in the telecommunications sector, and a loss of 500,000 jobs between 2001 and 2003."

The legislation was supposed to save consumers $550 billion, including $333 billion in lower long-distance rates, $32 billion in lower local phone rates, and $78 billion in lower cable bills. But cable rates have risen by about 50 percent, and local phone rates went up more than 20 percent since the Telecom Act passed in 1996.

Then there were the mergers. You probably remember a time when your town had a local radio station, but for many that is no longer the case. Prior to the Telecom Act, a company could own only up to 40 stations total. Today, Clear Channel alone owns over 1200 stations. Minority ownership of radio stations have declined 14%. An estimated ten thousand workers in the radio industry have lost their jobs.

If this is sounding bad, you should know it actually gets worse. Read this and more in the the Common Cause report Fallout From the Telecom Act.

If you're wondering if this could happen again, consider this:

Soft Money and PAC donations from Telecom and Broadcasting interests to Political Parties and Candidates for the period 1997-2004 totaled over 44 million dollars

Federal Lobbying Expenditures from Telecom and Broadcasting interests for the period 1998-2004 totaled over 36 million dollars.

The Telephone Companies

Astroturf Groups

House Telco Bill: COPE HR5252

Senate Telco Bill: S.2686 (aka HR 5252)

What's all this About? FAQ

Long Story Short: The 2006 Rewrite of U.S. Communications Policy

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