Letter to the Editor

Cable-TV bill benefits AT&T the most

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

To the editor;

The Jan. 23 Associated Press article about a bill in the legislature on cable-TV quoted a legislator as saying this bill 'will drive down cable rates." That is the company lines that AT&T is pushing to promote the bill, but nothing could be further from the truth.

AT&T wants this bill passed, because it wants to offer video services to high-end customers. In a pitch to investors, the phone giant tipped its hand by noting that it plans to focus almost exclusively on affluent neighborhoods, offering video services to only 5 percent of low-value neighborhoods where customers spend less than $110 a month on telecom services.

While this bill would give AT&T the ability to cherry pick in affluent areas, it would do nothing to benefit the average consumer. It would offer many business benefits to the telephone giant, allowing it to operate in select communities without the bother of getting a franchise from the city or county. The company would not be required to offer its video products to all customers, nor would it be required to provide public-access, educational or government programming -- benefits cable-TV companies have offered for more than a quarter-century.

AT&T would like legislators to believe consumers win with this cable-franchising bill, but the only winner would be AT&T. We hope legislators will see through the smokescreen and send this bill packing.

GREG HARRISON, President, Missouri Cable Telecommunications Association, Jefferson City, Mo.