AT$T Seeks Wisconsin Statewide Video Franchise

Posted on February 10, 2007 - 8:15pm.

from: Waxing America

AT&T Seeks Wisconsin Statewide Video Franchise

A Senate hearing Wednesday was the first visible action on AT&T's push to have Wisconsin law changed to bypass municipalities and create statewide video franchises. Senator Plale's Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail held an informational hearing (no bill has yet been officially introduced) on AT&T's proposal to allow it to upgrade its network to offer a video product wherever it sees fit. AT&T and its lead Assembly advocate, Representative Phil Montgomery, argued for quick state action to avoid municipal delay and bring "badly needed" competition to Wisconsin consumers. Officials from large and small cities, cable industry representatives, and local access channel users defended the existing of local control, and called for fairness and reasonable deliberation on a complex and important issue. Don't count on it.

AT&T puppet "grassroots" group TV4US has been spending millions on television, radio and newspaper ads pushing the notion that cable rates will come down when competition is allowed. Don't count on it.

AT&T has been spending millions "educating" state legislators at fundraisers on the need for eliminating local control of wired video that uses local public rights-of-way for private gain. As state legislators in Texas, California, Kansas, Oklahoma, North and South Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia, Connecticut, and Indiana have already learned this important lesson, count on Wisconsin's Senators and Representatives, after appropriate deliberation and fundraising, to realize that competition will not come fast enough under current conditions. Many other states are being lobbied similarly. Money talks.

Waxing America has long had a professional obsession with this issue, which died in last year's Congress.

WKOW-TV did a good, long (for TV news) story Wednesday, with enough detail to show the complexity of the issues. My quotes weren't chopped out of context, and AT&T and Charter's people's points were balanced. Ironically, when the first news segment of the program ended, it was followed by a TV4US commercial.

- Barry Orton

( categories: State Franchises | WISCONSIN )