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WI: Unreliable info on cable reform

By saveaccess
Created 07/09/2007 - 6:06pm

Note: TV4US is up to their usual tricks, now in Wisconsin. Such dishonest campaigning on behalf of corporations (AT&T or anyone for that matter) should be made illegal. Unfortunately, a Bill doing as such was voted down by Republicans in Congress earlier this session.

from: The Capital Times [1]

Unreliable info on cable reform

An editorial — 7/09/2007 11:18 am

The scheme to help AT&T reap more profits from Wisconsin consumers by gaining a state-sponsored advantage in the cable market has always been a bad idea.

It has always been hard to imagine why anyone, aside from those politicians who have accepted campaign contributions from donors who stand to profit from the deal, would even consider backing the proposal.

But the AT&T-funded front group that has been promoting the measure, TV4US, came up with an impressive list of supporters.

Cynthia Laitman, an Edgewood College professor who has long been active in media reform issues, was on it.

So too was former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

So too was former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Garvey, one of the most outspoken critics of corporate excess in the state.

State Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, was on it.

And so was state Rep. Joe Parisi, D-Madison, an especially vocal defender of consumers in the Legislature.

There was only one problem with the TV4US list.

It was bogus.

Laitman has been actively campaigning against the cable legislation.

Soglin and Garvey have expressed their opposition.

Pope-Roberts voted against it in the Assembly.

Parisi has been a leading opponent in the Legislature.

What's up?

The TV4US lists are not to be trusted -- or believed. For whatever reason, they were not put together with an eye toward accuracy.

How bad are the lists? Ask state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, who with his aides discovered a number of the wrongly listed "supporters" of the bill.

The longest-serving state legislator in the nation says, "I've been in the Legislature a long time and I can't remember having this much misrepresentation presented in a matter. We just picked out three examples. We don't know how many more are in there."

The scandal surrounding the TV4US lists raises several questions.

Did AT&T use its customer databases to come up with lists of "supporters" of its scheme? The company says it didn't, but state consumer protection agencies should investigate to make sure that is the case.

Did an AT&T-funded "advocacy group" create lists that were designed to intentionally deceive legislators? The director of the group claims that this did not happen but, considering the circumstance, an investigation of this claim seems more than appropriate.

No matter what those investigations might reveal, the most important question will remain:

If legislators cannot trust the lists of "supporters" for this radical change in policy regarding cable regulation -- a radical change that would benefit AT&T -- why should they trust the claims of AT&T and its paid agents about the supposed improvements that would result from the change?

The best answer is to reject the AT&T-sponsored measure and write responsible legislation that is truly designed to lower cable costs and improve service.

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