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Telcos Lobby CA: $19.7 Million in 3 Months
The push for a statewide video franchise
by FFH5 02:06PM Monday Aug 28 2006 Tipped by Karl Bode See Profile
As California prepares to vote on whether to give the baby bells a statewide video franchise, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Verizon & AT&T have spent a whopping $19.7 million, or $200,000 per day to influence the vote. A statewide franchise would exclude telcos from localized laws that require cable operators to build out to broad portions of communities.
"AT&T led the way by spending nearly $18 million on lobbyists; television, radio and newspaper advertising; wining and dining lawmakers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Lakers basketball tickets for the chairwoman of the Senate committee that held hearings on the legislation, records show."
Despite consumer group (and of course cable company) opposition to the measure, "the legislation has yet to receive a single "no" vote during committee and floor votes," the paper observes. Final votes are expected on the bill this week.

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FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 edit

1 recommendation

Cable companies were against but were bought off

The cable companies lobbied against this bill, but they got an amendment that gives them statewide franchises too, so their opposition is now over.
In its early efforts to kill the bill, Comcast spent more than $3 million in April, May and June. A large chunk of that was spent on television advertisements, but also for hiring additional lobbyists.

Dennis Mangers, president of the association(California Cable & Telecommunications Association), said he has had to resort to using the help of contract lobbyists for the first time in his 25 years of representing the cable industry in Sacramento.

When the Assembly voted 77-0 on May 31 to approve AB2987, Mangers said, he realized that defeating the bill wasn't realistic. He contacted Núñez's office and offered to support the bill if cable companies can abrogate their existing local franchises and apply for a state license, and also get a seat at the table as the legislation continues to be tweaked.

The bill was eventually amended to allow cable companies to cancel local licenses and gain a state franchise if phone companies begin service in their regions.

That has left only the local governments and consumer groups standing in opposition to the legislation.
Game, set, & match.
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RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

1 edit

Re: Cable companies were against but were bought off

said by FFH5:

The bill was eventually amended to allow cable companies to cancel local licenses and gain a state franchise if phone companies begin service in their regions.

That has left only the local governments and consumer groups standing in opposition to the legislation.
Game, set, & match.
So where is the outcry over Comcast sneaking in the back door? They are in a much better position to run rampant through the countryside thumbing their nose at every municipality they currently do business in today. It'll take AT&T and Verizon years to do as much damage as Comcast can do in a month.
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Toolmaster of La Grange.

owenhome
keeper of the magic blue smoke
Premium
join:2002-07-13
Bentonville, AR

Re: Cable companies were against but were bought off

It's a shame a mind like yours isn't in the thick of this where it could do some good.
--
Never argue with a fool, people might not know the difference.
markopoleo

join:2003-04-02
Bonne Terre, MO

19.7 million to influence..call it what it is please.

$200,000 a day in bribes.

woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA

Re: 19.7 million to influence..call it what it is please.

You would think with the "Abramoff" scandle $hit like this wouldn't happen,but I guess it's a way of life with the politicians of all flavors, and short memories, geez
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footballdude
Premium
join:2002-08-13
Imperial, MO

1 recommendation

Re: 19.7 million to influence..call it what it is please.

said by woody7:

You would think with the "Abramoff" scandle $hit like this wouldn't happen
You may have noticed that that 'scandal' died away pretty quickly. When the news folks thought they could convince people that it was a Republican scandal they were breathing pretty heavily but when it became fairly obvious that both parties were involved, it suddenly became old news.
--
What's certain about Darwinism is that it would take less time for (1) a single-celled organism to evolve into a human being through mutation and natural selection than for (2) Darwinists to admit they have no proof of (1) - Ann Coulter
pabster

join:2001-12-09
Waterloo, IA

Re: 19.7 million to influence..call it what it is please.

footballdude wrote:

"You may have noticed that that 'scandal' died away pretty quickly. When the news folks thought they could convince people that it was a Republican scandal they were breathing pretty heavily but when it became fairly obvious that both parties were involved, it suddenly became old news."

Exactly. I distinctly remember Howard "Yipeee!!!!" Dean saying "This is a Republican scandal." Once the facts started to come out the liberals of the mainstream media buried the story QUICK.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
No, it died away quickly because it is a scandal which embarrased the Republican party, therefore, it gets buried quickly.

If it had been something embarrasing to Democrats they'd have started one of those un-ending investigations immediately, and we'd still be hearing about it every day.
--
"Regulatory capitalism is when companies invest in lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians, instead of plant, people, and customer service." - former FCC Chairman William Kennard (A real FCC Chairman, unlike the current Corporate Spokesperson in the job!)

California has...

...the finest state government money can buy.

T1 Rocky

join:2002-11-15
Dallas, TX

1 recommendation

Re: California has...

Why is lobbying still legal? Seriously, what is the difference between it and bribery?

tsu9

join:2001-08-17
Wheeling, IL

Re: California has...

Nothing, except those in power like it.

footballdude
Premium
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Imperial, MO

1 recommendation

said by T1 Rocky:

Why is lobbying still legal?
Because the people who make the laws are the ones getting the perks. If you were a congressman, would you pass a law making it illegal for people to buy you stuff?
--
What's certain about Darwinism is that it would take less time for (1) a single-celled organism to evolve into a human being through mutation and natural selection than for (2) Darwinists to admit they have no proof of (1) - Ann Coulter

RayW
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Layton, UT
kudos:1
said by T1 Rocky:

Why is lobbying still legal? Seriously, what is the difference between it and bribery?
Because TECHNICALLY they are two different animals. But as can be seen, many lobbyists spend a lot of extra funds (bribes, in the simplest terms) on pumping up the people doing the voting.
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grandpinaple

join:2006-01-03
New York, NY

Want to

Work as a Cali politician.

Alpine
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Atlanta, GA

2 recommendations

Still trying to figure out...

... a good reason why so-called "consumer advocates" are against statewide franchises...

"Yes! Let's slow down implementation! That'll really help competition!"

Adam
Expand your moderator at work
ross7

join:2000-08-16

4 recommendations

Re: Still trying to figure out...

said by Alpine:

... a good reason why so-called "consumer advocates" are against statewide franchises...

"Yes! Let's slow down implementation! That'll really help competition!"

Adam
Believe it, or not, local governments are still concerned about services being provided to all of their citizens, not just the more well-to-do. They are also interested in Public Access Channels remaining available. Franchise fees are nominal at best, it is management of deployment, and local access that are their major concerns.

This new statewide franchise bill removes mandatory build-out to all communities, and will probably wind-up neglecting to preserve local access because Telcos have no comparable offering now, nor will they in the future if such access is not mandated in this new bill.

So, if local access goes, community involvement is curtailed, and interest and ability to participate in the development of programming relevant to local communities is removed. Local access channels are an essential way for communities to address local issues, educate and entertain their constituents. They also provide a training ground for future media aspirants.

It is unconscionable to give away an important, and valuable, aspect of cable TV without offset, substitution of service, or compensation to those most affected; local communities. It is unfair, and socially untenable, to permit cablecos, or telcos, to bypass any community based on demographic, or economic red-lining.

Alpine
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Atlanta, GA

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Re: Still trying to figure out...

I understand what you're saying and agree somewhat, but the realities "on the ground" have changed enough in the past several years to make some of those arguments a little obsolete.

I know of no one who watches public access. Yes, I'm sure someone will pop up here who says they watch it 15 hours a day, but they're very much in the minority. And a statewide franchise could account for this; the two things aren't necessarily mutually-exclusive.

At the same time, news and media are increasingly going national and international. Local news viewership is decreasing, but will never go away. I'd be willing to bet that vastly more people get their community news from their local nightly newscast or the Internet rather than public access channels. With all of this, I find the community access argument pretty much irrelevant.

The so-called "red-lining" is a more valid issue, even if the term is misused around here almost as much as "net neutrality." A basic tenet of business is that you bring your product to the customers most likely to buy it. That's the primary goal of advertising and marketing people. You don't advertise for Viagra on Nickelodeon (though that's obviously an exaggeration.) Similarly, you wouldn't spend millions to install fiber in neighborhoods that just won't sustain it. These companies aren't charities here. They aren't the federal government. They should be allowed to market their services where they want.

Same as above, just because a franchise agreement doesn't require 100% distribution, it doesn't mean that the telcos won't eventually provide it. It'll get there at some point, but it's going to be faster for everyone if they're allowed to turn a profit and expand. Putting up artificial barriers to deployment (while at the same time yelling "we need more competition!") and forcing them to deploy to areas at a loss only hurts deployement for everyone.

I understand the frustration if some people don't have the services they want, but this ain't the way to go about trying to get them.

Adam
ross7

join:2000-08-16

Re: Still trying to figure out...

said by Alpine:

I understand what you're saying and agree somewhat, but the realities "on the ground" have changed enough in the past several years to make some of those arguments a little obsolete.

I know of no one who watches public access. Yes, I'm sure someone will pop up here who says they watch it 15 hours a day, but they're very much in the minority. And a statewide franchise could account for this; the two things aren't necessarily mutually-exclusive.

At the same time, news and media are increasingly going national and international. Local news viewership is decreasing, but will never go away. I'd be willing to bet that vastly more people get their community news from their local nightly newscast or the Internet rather than public access channels. With all of this, I find the community access argument pretty much irrelevant.

The so-called "red-lining" is a more valid issue, even if the term is misused around here almost as much as "net neutrality." A basic tenet of business is that you bring your product to the customers most likely to buy it. That's the primary goal of advertising and marketing people. You don't advertise for Viagra on Nickelodeon (though that's obviously an exaggeration.) Similarly, you wouldn't spend millions to install fiber in neighborhoods that just won't sustain it. These companies aren't charities here. They aren't the federal government. They should be allowed to market their services where they want.

Same as above, just because a franchise agreement doesn't require 100% distribution, it doesn't mean that the telcos won't eventually provide it. It'll get there at some point, but it's going to be faster for everyone if they're allowed to turn a profit and expand. Putting up artificial barriers to deployment (while at the same time yelling "we need more competition!") and forcing them to deploy to areas at a loss only hurts deployement for everyone.

I understand the frustration if some people don't have the services they want, but this ain't the way to go about trying to get them.

Adam
Shortsightedness and naivete are in adundant supply around here, as usual. While a statewide franchise bill might address public access, and mandate deployment while outlawing red-lining, along with replacing lost revenue to local government entities, this bill does not. Nor will any bill authored by the Telco or Cable industries. Clearly, neither industry is favorably disposed to provide anything they are not bound by law to provide. Hell, they don't even provide all they are legally obligated to under existing laws. Are we to believe they will metamorphose into entirely different creatures by the removing the few constraints that pay deferrence to the public weal? I think not!

Loss of public access channels is not a trivial concern, nor is it irrelevant to either the Cablecos or the people who utilize public access for community programming.

And, if you are going to wait for Telco or Cableco to service you with next-gen product if they don't have to...well, don't hold your breath! There are huge areas of the country, not all rural, that aren't served by either duopoly, and larger areas underserved by both. Ask anyone here who has been waiting for five plus years for ADSL/SDSL/Cable/Wireless and can't get any, even though their relatively close neighbors may. Ask them when they expect fiber to show up...bwahahahahaha!

jslik
That just happened
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said by Alpine:

I'd be willing to bet that vastly more people get their community news from their local nightly newscast or the Internet rather than public access channels. With all of this, I find the community access argument pretty much irrelevant.
Is that because of choice or consolidation? I bet if you looked at viewer surveys for many communities, local news/information would rate very highly. People very much like seeing local events, sports, and governmental information

Also "public access" can mean many things, but don't lump the educational and government channels in with the purely 'public' channels in your "I know of no one who watches them'. They all have value.

Finally, I don't see the issue with asking some channel space/bandwidth devoted to public/government/educational access, considering these companies are using public land to make money.

No one would give free rent for land for little or no return, especially when the tenant is making millions from that use. Why should government be any different?
SSLSTL

join:2004-12-09
Saint Louis, MO

Re: Still trying to figure out...

Cable franchises in metro St. Louis area -

the Higher Education Channel (HEC) provides 50,000 college credit hours over television each year. 26,000 high school students are taking language courses via this channel. That creates community development, workforce training, and educational efficiency benefits. Furthermore, because (as another writer pointed out) public access offers training, St. Louis happens to have a rather thriving video industry here... many, if not most, of the card carrying union members got their start at a govt, educational or public access channel. So those channels have contributed to the local economy.

How would you like to be the citizen who does not get choice? These telcos have received (and still get) huge subsidies for POTS "universal service". I for one am not thrilled about large and rich corporations demanding the use of public property in order to serve
90% of "high value" subs (who spend over $160 month)
35% of "medium value" subs ($110 - $160 month)
5% (yes five) of "low value" subs (who spend less than $110 a month)

See the SBC Investor Report of November 2004 regarding Project Lightspeed for more details.

If you want to be classified with the special privileges of a public utility, and receive seriously large subsidies paid by consumers, and use public property because it is faster and easier than getting permission from each parcel owner, then serve everyone in your footprint, and meet some community media needs.
Expand your moderator at work

Fronkman
An Apple a day keeps the doctor away
Premium
join:2003-06-23
Saint Louis, MO

1 recommendation

unfortunate

all of this instead of spending $200,000 a day upgrading infrastructure or investing that money to increase the value of the company.

a sad day for stockholders and customers...
soothsayer15

join:2002-03-01
Irving, TX

Re: unfortunate

You guys know nothing about business. That $19 million is small change compared to what getting local franchise agreements would have cost. It also saves time, letting them get a leg up on cable.

All you guys do is see a number and put no thought behind it. Also, you guys needs to get off the red-lining and cherry-picking arguements. MOST businesses are like that. If you try to open your own franschise restaurant, you will find that they are VERY picky about where you open. Go to college and take some business courses.

xerxes3642

join:2006-02-24
Saint Charles, MO

try to remember

America has a short memory, but Californians, try to remember this when it is time for your elections. Not a single "no" vote. Everyone in your state legislature is corrupt!!
ross7

join:2000-08-16

Re: try to remember

said by xerxes3642:

America has a short memory, but Californians, try to remember this when it is time for your elections. Not a single "no" vote. Everyone in your state legislature is corrupt!!
We got that hint via electric utility deregulation dabacle...but thanks for noticing!

Can't wait until Bectel and PG&E take over the water supply...

JTRockville
Data Ho
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Rockville, MD

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500 Miles

At $40,000 per mile, Telcos could have deployed around 500 miles of fiber for the price they paid to lobby the legislature.

It's quite obvious these guys are in business to make money, not to deliver services.

RadioDoc
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La Grange, IL
kudos:2

Re: 500 Miles

I usually agree with you, but you might want to re-read your comment:

"It's quite obvious these guys are in business to make money, not to deliver services."

Of course they are in business to make money. One of the ways that happens is to deliver services that make money.

These are public corporations not charities, foundations or government agencies. Unless we're all set to pay for government-run telecom services via taxes this is the best way to get the job done.

Unless, of course, you want to go back to the days of guaranteed-return-on-investment monopoly regulation, which would also guarantee service to everyone. It would, however, end the pipe dream of "competition" started back in the early 80's.
Would you rather they not make money?
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tsu9

join:2001-08-17
Wheeling, IL

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: 500 Miles

Would you rather they not make money?
Personally, I'd rather them not routinely screw over the community whenever possible. Making money is fine, but don't do it at the expense of the customers (no pun intended).
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"You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy by undermining them, that's the road to hell." - Lord Phillips of Sudbury.

RadioDoc
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join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

Re: 500 Miles

I agree. But, who decides what "screwing over the community" is? I can find you a dozen people in any community who feel they are being screwed over by the very municipal government who is supposed to be protecting said citizens from said screwing.

As a resident of Wheeling, you should know that you never, ever stand between a suburb and money.
--
Toolmaster of La Grange.

tsu9

join:2001-08-17
Wheeling, IL

Re: 500 Miles

I never said the line was that clear, but disassociating the local municipalities from the bidding process isn't precisely something I look forward to.

I'm sure that living in Illinois you know well what I mean.
--
"You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy by undermining them, that's the road to hell." - Lord Phillips of Sudbury.

RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

Re: 500 Miles

Yup. I stuck my tongue out in the general direction of the Capitol while driving through Springfield the other day...
--
Toolmaster of La Grange.

JTRockville
Data Ho
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-28
Rockville, MD
said by RadioDoc:

Unless, of course, you want to go back to the days of guaranteed-return-on-investment monopoly regulation, which would also guarantee service to everyone. It would, however, end the pipe dream of "competition" started back in the early 80's.
Would you rather they not make money?
I'd rather get service from an entity whose purpose is to provide service. I don't think competition, particularly when it means two giants in a race to the bottom, is something for a consumer to celebrate. What passes for competition is better than unregulated monopoly, but not by much.

RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

Re: 500 Miles

Well then you've just punctured the myth of regulated telecom competition as it was rigged in the 1980s and continues today. You've also ruined the day of most ranters who sully these pages.

Congratulations!
--
Toolmaster of La Grange.

Old_Grouch
Don't just sit there silly DO something
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join:2004-05-26
Greenwood, IN
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Actually, the money they spent winds-up being expense dollars against this year's earnings and something they can hit one time in the next annual report right below the accomplishments section where they talk about pulling wool over the eyes of legislators; escaping state regulatory rules for POTS and keeping the internet/IP traffic on the interstate side of the ledger so the states can't twiddle with it.

The creative task is getting it paid for by the rate base rather than the shareholders.

As someone else says...$19M to escape the cost of negotiating franchise agreements in every community is like getting it for darn near free.

Updating outside plant is often a capital project that has to be depreciated and earned against for a number of years in the future.
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~Team Discovery~ It's what to do with your PC when you aren't doing anything with your PC.