artlobby 2018-04-18T08:59:37+00:00

Verizon working their lobbyist. Beware of scam articles and editorials and astroturf phony consumer groups


Submitted by mauro on April 3, 2007 – 1:31pm

Recently a number of one sided articles and editorials have popped up in various news papers across the state, including the Worcester Telegram, calling attention to Verizon’s lobbying efforts to change state legislation in order to eliminate local cable franchise authority and regulations that currently provide many tax free benefits to residents in our city.
There may be room to argue for increased competition and lower cable service rates. Everyone agrees lower prices would be great. But are we supposed to be so stupid to believe that Verizon really wants lower prices? This capitalistic cash cow who feeds on more than a thousand dollar annual fee per subscriber really wants to go on a diet? Look, it is simple, they want to kill the current cable providers and position themselves for total monopolistic control in the end. Eliminating public access will be one step to gag community voices and complaints.

Does ANYONE out there really believe the “Verizon monopoly” will be any better than a “Charter monopoly” ( which doesn’t really exist by the way because of the Dish) without local franchise authority?

Since when did any de-regulatory action, in the past 30 or so years, have your prices really gone down? We are all paying more now for phone and cable than EVER before since the Reagan years.

The fact is however, high rates and lack of competition have nothing to do with local franchise license terms. There is no lack of potential choice either. A franchise allows a city to get something back in exchange for rights of way. Current law allows Cable companies to take that “something back” off the top of their gross revenues, in many cases, profits earned the previous year by the cable company. Cities that do not have a franchise still pay as high a cable rate on average as those that do have a fanchise.

Companies need to make an investment, comply with local franchise regs and they can soon be in the money. It’s more about greed though. The PEG fee is nothing, a pitance, compared to the huge profit these companies are raking in. It’s about COMPLETE control, not the franchise fee. Verizon is already providing cable TV services in over 35 cities and towns in Massachusetts. They can’t even keep up with the build out fast enough. Local franchise licensing didn’t hinder them in those cities.

So it begs the question why change state law? Answer: To place accountability further away from the neighborhoods. It is a know fact that there are many disparities challenging a healthy community. Verizon’s ability to red line and cherry pick neighborhoods, eliminate public access voices will only broaden the gap and further the digital divide. Its a direction that is leading straight to a fascist system.

It’s easy to pit the community against the incumbent cable provider. Prices are way out out of control. (Verizone’s FIOS will be even higher, wait and see). Yes, Charter is the only cable provider in Worcester and most people, according to comments I have read on other websites, seem to hate them. That is no surprise. I attended the public ascertainment hearings, I have seen at first hand, that the reason people are against Charter is Charter’s fault and has nothing to do with the city administration or PEG channels. It has to do with the perception of poor customer service, high rates, and too many repeated programs on the likes of HBO and other “premium” channels. It isn’t hard to see through the perky political facade of the “public access like” shows they present to deflate community demand for a real county wide distribution of WCCA’s programming.

What is needed is enforcement and stronger regulations. The people should be demanding legislators to pass bills that will allow cities to regulate prices and rates, guarantee consumer protection, and to guarantee support for the Public Access channels. There should be stronger mechanisms in place to enforce compliance as well. The city’s lack of urgency relative to cable franchising doesn’t help either.

In today’s T&G the front page story interviewed some housewives in suburban towns. One of them said let them find another way to pay [for public access] for it. Too bad she didn’t live in Worcester to experience the full potential of public access. Local franchise license is the best way to pay for a free speech platform. It is not corporate or government controlled and it is not paid for with tax money. Millbury’s former town manager is now the government liaison working FOR Charter. So if the Millbury woman is not happy with Charter or the town’s public access channel she may want to look into the type of deal Charter has with the town.

This is not rocket science. It is about wires strung throughout the city attached to servers and computers and wired back through our streets and into our yards and homes. The people own the rights of way. Do not let Verizon take that away from us. We the people deserve something back in exchange for these companies to make billions of of us. KEEP IT LOCAL