Cable Choice and Competition Act

Sun Jun 10 10:51:43 EDT 2007

It seems illogical though that Verizon would want to cherry-pick inside a
city or town though, since, even in the poorer communities, the purchase of
phone and cable services are kinda standard. 
Speaking from experience, most lower-middle class folks choose to spend a
bit more on cable because they don't have a ton of money to spend on
entertainment outside of the home, like theaters, or buying/renting DVDs. In
other words, more often than not, it's a captive audience. 

In addition, I've been noticing Verizon offering phone/DSL/cable via one of
the dish channels with more channels than basic cable for $99 a month. 
Let me tell you, after looking at a current combined $185
phone/broadband/cable bill, another grand in my pocket annually instead of
Comcast's isn't such a bad thing. 

As far as PEG stuff goes, I'm torn about how I feel about it. 

I've seen what great operations they have in Boston, Cambridge, and
Somerville, and I've also enjoyed the programming in all three cities. SCAT
does an amazing job and Boston's NNN and Talk of the Neighborhoods is great
programming. It always seemed a worthy cost in those communities, since the
bulk of the costs for PEG are just passed on by the cable companies to their
customers anyway. Why would Verizon be complaining about that?

On the flip though, I've seen what has happened here in Concord, N.H. The
media access center is an embarrassment. It's not worth the $240k-plus we
pay for it, especially when we used to only pay $60k for it. It has few
original programs which are repeated over and over again. During the renewal
talks with Comcast two years ago, the city tried to force Comcast to donate
two more channels to the access center. Comcast laughed that proposal off
after they started tracking the broadcasts and found that 91 percent of the
programming was repeats or billboard notices. The local newspaper complained
that the programs are "like a couch left on the curb" and said of the
station's picture quality: "no, you don't need glasses, it's the TV."
Despite an influx of $350k for capital equipment last year, the government
meeting coverage looks like it is 14th generation tape. It has also been
alleged that a few years back, a sitting city councilor conspired to oust
the station's original executive director. She then took the job for
herself, and later, had an outreach coordinator position created for her.
Despite constant outcry about these actions, the council refuses to do
anything about it. In fact, despite cuts to the city budget, including a
number of departments and services for the poor, the non-profit that runs
the PEG stations are scheduled to receive additionally $11k and will be
hiring a fourth full-time person, along with two part-timers. You would
think this is some town in Massachusetts but no, it's New Hampshire.  

Tony Schinella

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Garrett Wollman
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 1:04 AM
To: A. Joseph Ross
Subject: Re: Cable Choice and Competition Act

<<On Fri, 08 Jun 2007 00:03:24 -0500, "A. Joseph Ross"
<> said:

> I have no problem with the competition issue, but I don't see why 
> Verizon can't go through the local communities, just as Comcast and 
> RCN have done.

They want to be able to cherry-pick the most profitable customers,
while leaving other areas unserved.  Most communities won't allow
that, and want to hold Verizon to the same build-out standards as the
incumbent operators were held to.  (RCN didn't mind having to serve
lower-income areas of the communities they operate in, because their
whole strategy was to aggressively target customers in MDUs[1]
anyway.)  They also don't want to have to fund or carry PEG[2]
channels, since that (a) would put them at cost parity or even a
disadvantage relative to the incumbents, given their cost of capital,
and (b) would require them to have dedicated bandwidth in every
community for channels which no one watches.


[1] MDU: Multiple Dwelling Unit; i.e., an apartment or condominium

[2] PEG: Public/Educational/Government [-access channels].  The FCC
requires them to carry them, if they exist, but not to fund them.  All
cablecos want to get out of having to fund them, figuring (quite
rightly) that their customers have no interest in either watching or
paying for them, and if they stopped funding them, the local
communities would not have money on their own to operate them any

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