Letter to the Editor

Cable TV needs competition

Saturday, April 29, 2006

To the editor:

Missourians should not be misled by Holly Rehder of Sikeston, Mo., lobbyist for the Missouri Cable Telecommunications Association, who tries to make cable competition appear to be a battle between the cable companies and AT&T. This is really about consumers.

Think about the motivations of the monopoly cable industry that insists that new entrants be required to obtain local franchise agreements in order to enter the market. Why would an incumbent cable company with a dominant market share insist on this? The answer is that it would deter and delay competition from reaching consumers. A free-enterprise system depends on competition, and the current local franchise rules are stumbling blocks that need to be removed.

Despite the entrance of satellite service, cable still dominates the paid television market, and there has been no measurable effect on the price of cable service. Consumers continue to pay higher cable rates and get fewer choices. Satellite service is often the only choice in rural areas.

Many of the mandates imposed on traditional cable companies as a condition of entry may have made sense in the days of monopoly service, but in today's competitive environment, they are harmful and unnecessary. A streamlined approach would attract investment, encourage job growth and deploy new technology that will benefit consumers. Missouri needs to move forward and reform local cable franchising rules so that the deployment of new technology is encouraged, not impeded. Missouri consumers deserve better.