WI: Fraud behind state's cable legislation is disgusting

Posted on May 14, 2007 - 6:13pm.

from: Capital Times

Cynthia Laitman: Fraud behind state's cable legislation is disgusting

A letter to the editor

Dear Editor: Today I received a glossy 8x10, full-color card in the mail from "TV4us." Emblazoned across a background photo of $100 bills were the words "You can help Wisconsin Families Save Millions on Their Cable Bills."

The senders urge Wisconsinites to support legislation pending in the Legislature called the video competition act. They claim it would promote competition, offer consumers greater choice and save money.

Sounds good. Too bad it's phony! TV4us, also known as WeWantChoice.com, is co-sponsored by AT&T, the major corporate backer of the legislation.

According to Common Cause, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, "TV4us is the very definition of AstroTurf: an industry-backed campaign that gives the appearance of widespread grass-roots support. The group claims to be laboring on behalf of working Americans' who want lower costs' and more choices.' The name of their Web site also gives the impression of citizen activism -- WeWantChoice.com. But when you look behind the smoke and mirrors, you find not citizen power, but corporate money."

If it becomes law, the bill would revoke the right that our local municipalities now have to regulate their own cable TV franchises, and it would reduce public financing for PEG channels (public access, education, and local government programming). Eliminating local oversight promises a financial boon for AT&T, but it would be a major blow to democracy since it would greatly reduce or eliminate citizen access to local programming.

In effect, this deceptive legislation would privatize the last vestiges of citizen access to local cable TV and to unedited access to our government at work.

Unfortunately, the legislation has bipartisan support in Wisconsin. It was publicly announced this past week that Joe Wineke, chairman of the state Democratic Party, has registered as a paid lobbyist for AT&T. It is his only client.

Please contact your state representative and your state senator (800-362-9472) and tell them to vote NO on the video competition act.

Then, if you are a member of the Democratic Party, call Joe Wineke at 608-255-5172 and remind him that he has violated the trust of his constituency by selling out the public interest for personal profit. Disgusting!

Cynthia Laitman, visiting professor of communication studies, Edgewood College

( categories: State Franchises | WISCONSIN )