March 28, 2006 11:22 AM PST

AT&T cries foul over ads

AT&T has accused cable operators of stifling public debate on the issue of nationwide video franchises by refusing to air its advertisements.

On Monday, the nation's biggest phone company sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission charging that cable companies were trying to skew the political debate on the topic.

"That these dominant cable operators would even attempt to manipulate the political process in this manner shows just how far the current regulatory regime has departed from basic norms of market competition and free and fair debate," AT&T said in its complaint.

Cable companies such as Time Warner Cable were quick to respond, saying they are under no obligation to carry competitors' advertisements. Comcast said it decided not to run the ads because AT&T's claims were false and unsubstantiated. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) earlier this month issued a report slamming the phone companies for distorting the facts.

"Instead of whining about their false and misleading ads being rejected, the phone monopolies should withdraw their ads and start telling the truth," said Brian Dietz, a spokesman for NCTA. "They've played fast and loose with the truth for so long that they've forgotten they could have been competing in the video business for the last 10 years instead of waiting for special favors."

AT&T's complaint to the FCC comes just as telephone companies make significant headway in their quest to push through a federal law that would grant phone companies the right to offer TV service to millions of Americans without having to negotiate separate contract agreements with local governments. On Tuesday, the House Commerce Committee released a draft bill that included provisions for a national video franchise.

Phone companies argue that the current video franchise process is too slow and deprives millions of people a choice of which company provides their TV service.

Cable companies vehemently oppose such legislation, arguing that phone companies should have to go through the same process that they did in order to obtain local franchise agreements.

The war of the advertisements is likely to rage on as the NCTA on Tuesday launches its own ads, which it claims will point out the phone companies' broken promises.

See more CNET content tagged:
AT&T Corp., cable company, debate, agreement, video

28 comments

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Of course cable companies are going to complain
They like their monopolies guaranteed by local government
collusion. That's how they can charge protection money from us
to get our TV shows. The RICO act could be put to good use
against cable operators. :-P

I say throw out franchises altogether and let them compete on a
level playing field. And don't give us the expensive infrastructure
argument. Everyone has to invest in infrastructure. Why should
they be exempt and given corporate welfare only to turn around
and rob their subscribers?

And then we wouldn't need to legislate lower cable prices.
Posted by ewelch (767 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amen! Down with franchises!
If I can pick my own gas and electric companies, I should be able to pick what ever video provider I choose.
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Link Flag
I agree... putting them ALL on the same playing field should shut 'em up
As long as the cable operators are able to also go into markets where they do not currently have a negotiated local franchise, it's good for consumers all the way around. I don't care what the cable companies have to do now that makes this look unfair... the rules as a whole need to be changed and as long as they are changed for everyone, I'm all for it. I'd be happy to see AT&T, TimeWarner, Comcast, Verizon, AND Cox all competing in the same market freely... now that would be consumer choice!
Posted by (13 comments )
Link Flag
Absolutely clueless
Ok, your post shows just how clueless you are. The arguement in this story is that AT&T wants the cable companies to air ad's that are aimed against them. How stupid can you get? Thats like trying to force Pepsi to put ad's for Coke on their cans. Not going to happen.

Second, there is not a single Cable company in the US that has a monopoly. Have you forgoten about DirecTv and Dishnetwork? THats two competitors against every single cable operator in the US. Plus, Verizon and another phone company are building their own network to do television services. If you want to compete with cable, build your own network and do so, quit whining about it.

Oh, and by the way, cable companies are traditionaly cheaper than any satelite company based on the average home with 3 tv's and a "regular" programing package.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Link Flag
Of course cable companies are going to complain
They like their monopolies guaranteed by local government
collusion. That's how they can charge protection money from us
to get our TV shows. The RICO act could be put to good use
against cable operators. :-P

I say throw out franchises altogether and let them compete on a
level playing field. And don't give us the expensive infrastructure
argument. Everyone has to invest in infrastructure. Why should
they be exempt and given corporate welfare only to turn around
and rob their subscribers?

And then we wouldn't need to legislate lower cable prices.
Posted by ewelch (767 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amen! Down with franchises!
If I can pick my own gas and electric companies, I should be able to pick what ever video provider I choose.
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Link Flag
I agree... putting them ALL on the same playing field should shut 'em up
As long as the cable operators are able to also go into markets where they do not currently have a negotiated local franchise, it's good for consumers all the way around. I don't care what the cable companies have to do now that makes this look unfair... the rules as a whole need to be changed and as long as they are changed for everyone, I'm all for it. I'd be happy to see AT&T, TimeWarner, Comcast, Verizon, AND Cox all competing in the same market freely... now that would be consumer choice!
Posted by (13 comments )
Link Flag
Absolutely clueless
Ok, your post shows just how clueless you are. The arguement in this story is that AT&T wants the cable companies to air ad's that are aimed against them. How stupid can you get? Thats like trying to force Pepsi to put ad's for Coke on their cans. Not going to happen.

Second, there is not a single Cable company in the US that has a monopoly. Have you forgoten about DirecTv and Dishnetwork? THats two competitors against every single cable operator in the US. Plus, Verizon and another phone company are building their own network to do television services. If you want to compete with cable, build your own network and do so, quit whining about it.

Oh, and by the way, cable companies are traditionaly cheaper than any satelite company based on the average home with 3 tv's and a "regular" programing package.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Link Flag
Going on all over
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://channelchanger.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/03/ad_watch_cablev.html" target="_newWindow">http://channelchanger.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/03/ad_watch_cablev.html</a>

This cable war is getting crazy. And the cable companies are using their franchises as political weapons, the very exclusive franchises, btw, that are in jeopardy!
Posted by Hynes (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Going on all over
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://channelchanger.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/03/ad_watch_cablev.html" target="_newWindow">http://channelchanger.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/03/ad_watch_cablev.html</a>

This cable war is getting crazy. And the cable companies are using their franchises as political weapons, the very exclusive franchises, btw, that are in jeopardy!
Posted by Hynes (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Misleading Ads
It is the cable companies who are actually misleading the consumers through false advertisement. Just watch the "Verizon Cable Tax" ad. On top of that they don't let the phone companies play their ads so most of the consumers don't have any clue about the issue. The phone companies monopoly over landlines is already under threat from VOIP providers like Verizon. It is the time that cable companies also start facing some real competition.
Posted by guninder (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Misleading Ads
It is the cable companies who are actually misleading the consumers through false advertisement. Just watch the "Verizon Cable Tax" ad. On top of that they don't let the phone companies play their ads so most of the consumers don't have any clue about the issue. The phone companies monopoly over landlines is already under threat from VOIP providers like Verizon. It is the time that cable companies also start facing some real competition.
Posted by guninder (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If it really was AT&T.....
... the story might have some credibility. But it's not AT&#38;T, it's just
SBC with a facade. And the FUD is standard SBC FUD. Nothing to
get excited about - or to pay attention to....

Now to figure out how to avoid having to deal with SBC in any
way....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
opposite is true
That's funny. I feel the opposite way. I want nothing to do with any company bearing the AT&#38;T name or logo. They so alienated me with their ruthless tactics that I don't care if its the same company and feel that SBC was remiss in choosing to take that name. SBC on the other hand has always treated me top notch and gave me more service than hype.
Posted by BengalTigger (36 comments )
Link Flag
If it really was AT&T.....
... the story might have some credibility. But it's not AT&#38;T, it's just
SBC with a facade. And the FUD is standard SBC FUD. Nothing to
get excited about - or to pay attention to....

Now to figure out how to avoid having to deal with SBC in any
way....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
opposite is true
That's funny. I feel the opposite way. I want nothing to do with any company bearing the AT&#38;T name or logo. They so alienated me with their ruthless tactics that I don't care if its the same company and feel that SBC was remiss in choosing to take that name. SBC on the other hand has always treated me top notch and gave me more service than hype.
Posted by BengalTigger (36 comments )
Link Flag
The real story
I have seen a ton of new ads screaming for modern telecom
laws. The ads are incorrect in many cases. They claim cable
operators have raised rates some 80%, yet fail to mention that
with that has come internet acccess and in some cases, pone
access. Phone company prices have done the same thing, until
just recently, and in most cases still are just as high. Qwest
wants $100/month for phone, dsl and tv over vdsl. Cable rates
are in many cases less than that. So, as far as I am concerned,
the phone companies are the ones skewing the results.

To set the record straight, here are the demands.

Phone companies want unrestricted access to cable facilities,
including lines, trunks, etc. For this, they want it virtually free of
charge. The modernization of the telecom laws would open up
cable systems for phone companies to use with very few limits.
Today, cable operators are gouged with local loop fees that
make cable internet higher than it should be, but because
telecom industry will not work with cable operators to create
loops that are beyond their systems, they are forced to pay these
artificially high rates to get bandwidth for internet and phone
services.

The bottom line is that the cable industry wants free access to
facilities they had no investment in, and still wants to be able to
gouge for their own services. If telecom wants to play fair, we
will listen, but until then... It is not in anyone's best interest for
this to go through. What will happen is that phone companies
will be able to supersede cable operations and sell on a medium
that they do not have to pay for, making it impossible for cable
operators to stay in business, leaving the telecoms with their
cake and able to eat it, too. How is that fair?
Posted by jasonemanuelson1 (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's fair enough....
... both the telcos and the cable companies are trying to rip each
other off. It's essentially a battle for survival when neither side
actually understands the combat arena. And passing any laws now
is an exercise in futility - no one knows what laws to pass. It just
may have to go to a drag out fight for the customer dollar.

Except for Qwest - Qwest will screw the customer no matter what.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
The real story
I have seen a ton of new ads screaming for modern telecom
laws. The ads are incorrect in many cases. They claim cable
operators have raised rates some 80%, yet fail to mention that
with that has come internet acccess and in some cases, pone
access. Phone company prices have done the same thing, until
just recently, and in most cases still are just as high. Qwest
wants $100/month for phone, dsl and tv over vdsl. Cable rates
are in many cases less than that. So, as far as I am concerned,
the phone companies are the ones skewing the results.

To set the record straight, here are the demands.

Phone companies want unrestricted access to cable facilities,
including lines, trunks, etc. For this, they want it virtually free of
charge. The modernization of the telecom laws would open up
cable systems for phone companies to use with very few limits.
Today, cable operators are gouged with local loop fees that
make cable internet higher than it should be, but because
telecom industry will not work with cable operators to create
loops that are beyond their systems, they are forced to pay these
artificially high rates to get bandwidth for internet and phone
services.

The bottom line is that the cable industry wants free access to
facilities they had no investment in, and still wants to be able to
gouge for their own services. If telecom wants to play fair, we
will listen, but until then... It is not in anyone's best interest for
this to go through. What will happen is that phone companies
will be able to supersede cable operations and sell on a medium
that they do not have to pay for, making it impossible for cable
operators to stay in business, leaving the telecoms with their
cake and able to eat it, too. How is that fair?
Posted by jasonemanuelson1 (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's fair enough....
... both the telcos and the cable companies are trying to rip each
other off. It's essentially a battle for survival when neither side
actually understands the combat arena. And passing any laws now
is an exercise in futility - no one knows what laws to pass. It just
may have to go to a drag out fight for the customer dollar.

Except for Qwest - Qwest will screw the customer no matter what.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
What about seperate infrastructure ownership?
I hear (and understand) all of the arguments about infrastructure and who can use it for what and at what cost.

IMHO, forcing someone to share somehting that they built using thier money, people and other resources is just flat wrong.

It is also wrong to subject citizens to a monopoly in phone service, cable service or any other service or product - as competition gives users the best value for any product.

It seems that the simple (in concept - not implementation) solution here would be an infrastructure company that built and supported high-bandwith home and business access for sale/rent to all competitors at the same rates.

Laws would need to be passed that proohibit the infrastructure firm(s) from promoting competitive products or investing in (in any manner) any company utilitizing its infrastructure.

Then, all phone companies, cable providers, tv stations, etc that wanted high-bandwidth access to homes would be charged the same amount (regardless of size) and the service providers could concentrate on content while the sole bandwidth provider could concentrate on providing reliable high-bandwidth access for consumers.

Yes, I know....it looks as if the infrastructure provider would have a monopoly on providing infrastructure and high-bandwidth access to users' homes. S/he would.

But, the cost would be the same among all service providers - giving a level playing field.

You cannot have unlimited infrastructure providers because you have limits to the number of cables one can string through a neighborhood, and the number of poles and towers that people want littering the skylines.

And, no. The government should not be in charge of infrastructure - although an oversight committee would be a good thing. We don't need the fking up something so important.

In fact, it may be a good idea that a non-profit agency run the infrastructure company with caps on salaries of the workers and presidential officers.

Although this solution is not perfect, it is a damn sight better than the one we are stuck with now.
Posted by Jim Hubbard (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about seperate infrastructure ownership?
I hear (and understand) all of the arguments about infrastructure and who can use it for what and at what cost.

IMHO, forcing someone to share somehting that they built using thier money, people and other resources is just flat wrong.

It is also wrong to subject citizens to a monopoly in phone service, cable service or any other service or product - as competition gives users the best value for any product.

It seems that the simple (in concept - not implementation) solution here would be an infrastructure company that built and supported high-bandwith home and business access for sale/rent to all competitors at the same rates.

Laws would need to be passed that proohibit the infrastructure firm(s) from promoting competitive products or investing in (in any manner) any company utilitizing its infrastructure.

Then, all phone companies, cable providers, tv stations, etc that wanted high-bandwidth access to homes would be charged the same amount (regardless of size) and the service providers could concentrate on content while the sole bandwidth provider could concentrate on providing reliable high-bandwidth access for consumers.

Yes, I know....it looks as if the infrastructure provider would have a monopoly on providing infrastructure and high-bandwidth access to users' homes. S/he would.

But, the cost would be the same among all service providers - giving a level playing field.

You cannot have unlimited infrastructure providers because you have limits to the number of cables one can string through a neighborhood, and the number of poles and towers that people want littering the skylines.

And, no. The government should not be in charge of infrastructure - although an oversight committee would be a good thing. We don't need the fking up something so important.

In fact, it may be a good idea that a non-profit agency run the infrastructure company with caps on salaries of the workers and presidential officers.

Although this solution is not perfect, it is a damn sight better than the one we are stuck with now.
Posted by Jim Hubbard (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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