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Cities Say FCC Dishonest About Franchise Issues
Tampa : FCC claims 'complete and abject fiction'
by Karl Bode 12:49PM Monday Jan 29 2007
The FCC voted along partisan lines 3-2 last December to streamline TV franchise rules at the request of the baby bells in order to aid TelcoTV efforts. Some localities say that the FCC and telco lobbyists demonized the existing franchise system to get that vote through and, in some cases, made up stories entirely. Tampa officials are annoyed after the FCC inaccurately claimed they were forcing Verizon to film math tutoring classes in order to get a video franchise. Democratic Commissioner Adelstein has accused FCC chief Kevin Martin of taking telco claims at face value without any independent fact checking.

The FCC hopes that by streamlining the video franchise system they can speed up competition in the TV sector. Consumer advocates, however, note that speed isn't the issue. While local franchise negotiations can be choppy when towns or cities get greedy, Verizon has admitted the existing process hasn't really slowed down FiOS TV deployment. The telcos are more interested in streamlining the lobbying process and eliminating the build-out requirements frequently seen in local franchise negotiations. The end result may be TV competition, but only in select, profitable neighborhoods.

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POB
Res Firma Mitescere Nescit
Premium
join:2003-02-13
Stepford, CA

Hello and Welcome to 2001

The nation's chief telecommunications regulator stands accused of misrepresenting the facts while pushing through rules that will make it easier for big phone companies to get into cable television.
Paid telco shill Martin misrepresented facts in favor of his corporate taskmasters? Quick, alert the presses, we have a newsflash here...
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

said by POB:

The nation's chief telecommunications regulator stands accused of misrepresenting the facts while pushing through rules that will make it easier for big phone companies to get into cable television.
Paid telco shill Martin misrepresented facts in favor of his corporate taskmasters? Quick, alert the presses, we have a newsflash here...
Read the article; the story the FCC sounds pretty credible. The Tampa lawyer Smith first claims that the FCC made false accusations... then practically admits those claims are true later in the article. The city submitted a $13 million dollar "wish list" that included video cameras for a school math tutor program; Smith claims it wasn't necessarily a demand... but why submit this "wish list" during franchise negotiations if it wasn't?

Are we really supposed to believe that Verizon could've said "no thanks, I don't think we'll pay" and still gotten the franchise? Not bloody likely; of course it was a demand, whether officially represented as so by Tampa or not.

POB
Res Firma Mitescere Nescit
Premium
join:2003-02-13
Stepford, CA

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

said by dynodb:

Are we really supposed to believe that Verizon could've said "no thanks, I don't think we'll pay" and still gotten the franchise?
Yes, really. Conduct a quick due diligence on all things telco shills do for their masters. A multibillion dollar telco corporation like Verizon getting something for nothing is nothing new. It's SOP. Just take a good look at the recent mega merger of Bellsouth and AT&T. Martin did everything in his power except blow the panel of judges to facilitate and otherwise ensure that merger went through without any sort of oversight or accountability whatsoever.
--
The Toll

dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

And just what was the something they got for nothing? Permission for the merger to go through? Do you really think that it's not costing SBC and AT&T anything to go through the approval process? If so, you'd be very, very wrong.

SBC is paying $16 billion to buy AT&T, it's not as if the government is buying it for them. Even if it were the case that they were "getting something for nothing", it doesn't excuse the kind of legalized extortion that cities like Tampa engage in just to allow a provider to do business in their town.

jslik
That just happened
Premium
join:2006-03-17

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

said by dynodb:

Even if it were the case that they were "getting something for nothing", it doesn't excuse the kind of legalized extortion that cities like Tampa engage in just to allow a provider to do business in their town.
...and where is the PROOF of this 'legalize extortion'?

Every time the telcos have to provide actual, real life examples, they can't do so.

If the process is so bad, why did Verizon's president say "local franchising wasn't holding them back"?

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

Keep in mind, once the franchise system is shifted from the local to state level and we kill off these evil town leaders trying to improve their municipalities, you'll see competitive Utopia where the telcos and cable companies offer triple play services for $20 monthly. Why must you impede progress so?

jslik
That just happened
Premium
join:2006-03-17

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

said by Karl Bode:

Keep in mind, once the franchise system is shifted from the local to state level and we kill off these evil town leaders trying to improve their municipalities, you'll see competitive Utopia where the telcos and cable companies offer triple play services for $20 monthly. Why must you impede progress so?


Well, like you said elsewhere, I wonder who is going to be the 'bad man' when the telcos get their way with franchising and rollouts still aren't happening.
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN
said by jslik:

...and where is the PROOF of this 'legalize extortion'?

Every time the telcos have to provide actual, real life examples, they can't do so.

If the process is so bad, why did Verizon's president say "local franchising wasn't holding them back"?
I thought that the proof was evident in the article, along with the many other examples of municipalities demanding large sums of money, equipment and free programming.

Being the free market type I'd largely disagree, but I can at least respect the argument that the city has an interest in demanding service guarantees, universal deployment and reimbursement for use of right of way.

However, they go far beyond that- they're demanding percentages of revenue and money for everything from trucks to video cameras to free public access channels before they'll allow a provider to offer service in their town.

I see no difference there than the hypothetical example of a hardware store being told that before they can open for business, they have to give the city free tools, yard supplies and a truck to haul them in for the city maintance department on top of the property taxes and license fees that other businesses have to pay.

Those costs have to be passed on to customers (businesses don't pay taxes, they collect them from their customers), and the added expense discourages competition since it's that much more expensive to provide service in a new area.

jslik
That just happened
Premium
join:2006-03-17

1 edit

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

said by dynodb:

I thought that the proof was evident in the article, along with the many other examples of municipalities demanding large sums of money, equipment and free programming.
...other examples that either weren't true, or in Tampa's case, Verizon retracted. Repeating it doesn't make it true.

said by dynodb:

However, they go far beyond that- they're demanding percentages of revenue and money for everything from trucks to video cameras to free public access channels before they'll allow a provider to offer service in their town.

I see no difference there than the hypothetical example of a hardware store being told that before they can open for business, they have to give the city free tools, yard supplies and a truck to haul them in for the city maintance department on top of the property taxes and license fees that other businesses have to pay.

Those costs have to be passed on to customers (businesses don't pay taxes, they collect them from their customers), and the added expense discourages competition since it's that much more expensive to provide service in a new area.
Your example leaves out one very important fact: Your hardware store is built on public land.

As a renter, you should expect to pay rent, should you not? You don't expect the landlord to give you your space rent free, even though your rent will be passed on to your customers? Why should any government be any different with land owned by the taxpayers?

Futhermore, all those so-called 'extras' are specifically allowed under federal law.

Also, if you weren't paying franchise fees, you still would be paying them in higher rates. All the providers factor in fees in their pricing, so you'll pay them to your city or to the company, take your pick. Just look at cable modem franchise fees if you don't believe me.

package

@lsllp.com
said by dynodb:

said by POB:

The nation's chief telecommunications regulator stands accused of misrepresenting the facts while pushing through rules that will make it easier for big phone companies to get into cable television.
Paid telco shill Martin misrepresented facts in favor of his corporate taskmasters? Quick, alert the presses, we have a newsflash here...
Read the article; the story the FCC sounds pretty credible. The Tampa lawyer Smith first claims that the FCC made false accusations... then practically admits those claims are true later in the article. Are we really supposed to believe that Verizon could've said "no thanks, I don't think we'll pay" and still gotten the franchise? Not bloody likely; of course it was a demand, whether officially represented as so by Tampa or not.
Yea, headline unfairly labels the link "made up stories entirely" when that clearly isn't the case. I am all for bashing the telcos when it's warranted, which is often enough that you don't have to ... errr... make it up.
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

Happens all too often on BBR. Perhaps the FCC simply made a mistake in the way the represented the issue, though Tampa's $13 million dollar "wish list" sounds like extortion to me.

In any case, the version told by the FCC ceratainly wasn't a "made up" story by any honest point of view. That is my main objection, but lately such deliberate misrepresentation seems to occur on an almost daily with BBR front page articles.

Of course such misrepresentations and dishonesty will always be met with cheers by the "fight the power" crowd, but the lack of objectivity remains.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

4 edits

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

quote:
That is my main objection, but lately such deliberate misrepresentation seems to occur on an almost daily with BBR front page articles.
Your claims of factual error are dissected in the other thread. Not only by me, but by someone intimately familiar with the franchise negotiation process.

Let's save time, and I'll direct you to where you can find the kind of "objective" information you're looking for:

»www.qwest.com/about/media/pressroom/

jslik
That just happened
Premium
join:2006-03-17
said by dynodb:

Read the article; the story the FCC sounds pretty credible....Are we really supposed to believe that Verizon could've said "no thanks, I don't think we'll pay" and still gotten the franchise? Not bloody likely; of course it was a demand, whether officially represented as so by Tampa or not.
Did you read the article?

"Oddly enough, Verizon mentions the tangle with Tampa in its comments with the FCC, but does not name the city nor does it reference the math program. It did, however, revise its comments and apologize after a complaint from Tampa about how the company represented the negotiations"

If the FCC is so 'credible', why did Verizon apologize to Tampa?

Why didn't the FCC do some cursory investigation to find out if any of the local franchise allegations were true?

Why did the FCC take the telcos at their word, apparently?

Franchise negotiations always start with the 'wish list', the provider says no, nothing, and you end up with something in between. That's why they're called 'negotiations'.
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Hello and Welcome to 2001

said by jslik:

said by dynodb:

Read the article; the story the FCC sounds pretty credible....Are we really supposed to believe that Verizon could've said "no thanks, I don't think we'll pay" and still gotten the franchise? Not bloody likely; of course it was a demand, whether officially represented as so by Tampa or not.
Did you read the article?

"Oddly enough, Verizon mentions the tangle with Tampa in its comments with the FCC, but does not name the city nor does it reference the math program. It did, however, revise its comments and apologize after a complaint from Tampa about how the company represented the negotiations"

If the FCC is so 'credible', why did Verizon apologize to Tampa?
They revised their complaint after the city of Tampa- the one's with the power to approve or deny Verizon's right to do business in the city- complained. I think that Verizon's incentive to back down is rather clear.

DaveDude
No Fear

join:1999-09-01
New Jersey
kudos:1

people thew away freedom for a quick fix

Anyone who was against franchising is going to crying one day, when service levels aren't up to par. People said "oh. 10m, i don't care about my consumer safety laws, just give the bandwidth.!" Wait until they cant get on service when they need it.

TScheisskopf
World News Trust

join:2005-02-13
Belvidere, NJ

Re: people thew away freedom for a quick fix

Just the telco and cableco shills. By that time, however, they will have slunk away, back into the mists and vapors from which they came.

batterup
I Can Not Tell A Lie.
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Netcong, NJ

1 recommendation

said by DaveDude:

Anyone who was against franchising is going to crying one day, when service levels aren't up to par. People said "oh. 10m, i don't care about my consumer safety laws, just give the bandwidth.!" Wait until they cant get on service when they need it.
The town can't do anything about service. The town can only wait until franchise agreement expires then get concessions. The could be 10 years down the road.

DaveDude
No Fear

join:1999-09-01
New Jersey
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: people thew away freedom for a quick fix

said by batterup:

said by DaveDude:

Anyone who was against franchising is going to crying one day, when service levels aren't up to par. People said "oh. 10m, i don't care about my consumer safety laws, just give the bandwidth.!" Wait until they cant get on service when they need it.
The town can't do anything about service. The town can only wait until franchise agreement expires then get concessions. The could be 10 years down the road.
Not true, in the franchise agreement there are usually terms of service agreements, which means service cant be down for more then 2 days, otherwise a credit must be issued. This is what my previous town had in there agreement.
--
Go courageously to do whatever you are called to do. fear nothing. - St. Francis de Sales


package

@lsllp.com

Re: people thew away freedom for a quick fix

said by DaveDude:

said by batterup:

said by DaveDude:

Anyone who was against franchising is going to crying one day, when service levels aren't up to par. People said "oh. 10m, i don't care about my consumer safety laws, just give the bandwidth.!" Wait until they cant get on service when they need it.
The town can't do anything about service. The town can only wait until franchise agreement expires then get concessions. The could be 10 years down the road.
Not true, in the franchise agreement there are usually terms of service agreements, which means service cant be down for more then 2 days, otherwise a credit must be issued. This is what my previous town had in there agreement.
Throwing freedom away is a bit of hyperbole to say the least. There has been no indication that the FCC rules will take away the ability of local jurisdictions to require minimum levels of service, or to require credits for extended outages. Also, these franchises are for CATV only, and not Internet service, which is unregulated.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: people thew away freedom for a quick fix

quote:
There has been no indication that the FCC rules will take away the ability of local jurisdictions to require minimum levels of service, or to require credits for extended outages.
No that comes later, after one-stop lobbying allows telcos to make the state-level guidelines utterly toothless...

Then in ten years, your marketing department (after blaming a lack of competition on Aardvarks or whatever else) can again tell the people that true competition will come if we do X.

(X=another rule change aimed solely at maximizing revenue at the cost of the consumer)
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Gee, which side are you on Karl?

"Tampa officials are annoyed after the FCC inaccurately claimed they were forcing Verizon to film math tutoring classes in order to get a video franchise."
Oh really? Reading the article and what the Tampa rep admitted, it sounds like the claim that the city demanded video cameras for the tutoring class isn't inaccurate at all. It sounds like Tampa is engaging in good old-fashioned extortion, and they're not exactly the first municipality to engage in it.

Unless of course you actually believe the city's story that it was just part of a "wish list" that was more or less voluntary and not really part of the franchise agreement

If you're concerned about facts being misrepresented, perhaps you should start with your articles, Karl.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

1 edit

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

The consumer's side, to answer your qwestion. As a Qwest employee, which side are you on?

Tampa officials note that was just a dream list required by Florida law as to what franchise funds could potentially be used for. It was not a straight demand -- nor was it included in the language of the actual franchise agreement -- something admitted to by Verizon down the line -- who ultimately apologized for misrepresenting the "demand". Verizon isn't the type of company to apologize for nothing.

Of course that's all in the article...

The franchise system here is being demonized and its flaws amplified by telco lobbyists to pass desired legislation. I think this "blame franchises for cancer" push of the last several years is a little melodramatic...

Yes they're dysfunctional, but so is every man-made social system on the planet I can think of. They're also responsible for huge swaths of "unprofitable" America getting cable....oddly the benefits of localized franchise control seem always omitted...
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

I'm on my own side; video isn't a major part of Qwest's business and the franchising issue has little or no affect on my employer at all. You see I have cable at home, and am paying rather high rates due to the Minneapolis city-imposed cable franchise monopoly in my town. Franching limits competition, and thus hurts the consumer- me.

As far as the city of Tampa suggesting it's merely a "dream list". Yeah, right; how naive would a person have to be to buy that story? Sounds like when the mafia shows up at your door asking you to pay for "fire insurance". They don't include written demands either, but it's implied that you'd better pay it- or else.

This story was worth front page submission, but your one-sided, biased misrepresentation of it was not.

Verizon initially stated that they (very reasonably and almost certainly correctly) interpreted the list as implied demands by the city- the city was asking for things in the course of a negotiation.

If later Verizon backed down, it was most likely for the same reason they agreed to supply items on the "wish list" in the first place- in order to get franchise approval.

If Verizon isn't the type of company to apologise for nothing, I doubt they're the type of company to spend $13 million dollars in "gifts" just as a favor without expecting something in return- namely franchise approval.

Tampa claims that the FCC misrepresented the facts, the FCC says they didn't... but they both agree that $13 million dollars in items (including the cameras in question) were asked for and received in the course of franchise negotiations. Given that the only dispute is whether it was an actual demand or voluntary request, it's beyond misleading to state as fact that the FCC version was "made up" as you implied since there was basis in fact to support the FCC side.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

quote:
As far as the city of Tampa suggesting it's merely a "dream list". Yeah, right; how naive would a person have to be to buy that story?
Since it's the truth, I have no idea. I've already clarified your misinterpretation in my post above: Florida requires that franchise income expenditure is itemized to show where revenue will go. Verizon misrepresented this as a franchise demand, then retracted and apologized. The FCC then used the misrepresented "demand" as fodder in political efforts that demonize localized franchise negotiation to pass telco-friendly legislation. Big long posts declaring otherwise do not somehow shift reality.
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

It's the truth according to the the city of Tampa- not according to Verizon's initial complaint to the FCC or the Wall Street Journal story. If you choose to believe Tampa, fine- you're entitled to your opinion. I find the city's account pretty fishy.

I just ask as a reader that the article be represented somewhat fairly- something you didn't do here. It's pretty clear that the FCC didn't "make up the story entirely" as you implied, nor did the city of Tampa accuse them of doing so in the article.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, I'm just asking for a little more objectivity.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

quote:
It's pretty clear that the FCC didn't "make up the story entirely" as you implied, nor did the city of Tampa accuse them of doing so in the article.
Reading the article would be a good idea.

A Tampa city lawyer called the FCC claim "complete and abject fiction", thus the sentence that states Some localities say the FCC and telco lobbyists "made up stories entirely" is accurate.

FYI (since you didn't know): Your employer has been busy pushing for statewide franchises in Colorado.
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

OK, now you've gone off the deep end.

To flatly state that the FCC- who got their information from the initial Verizon complaint and the Journal story- "made up" the story is a complete falsehood on your part, even if Tampa's claim that they got some details wrong is true. Not even Tampa is claiming they "made it up entirely".

You lied to your readers, and not for the first time- see the AT&T "won't compete on price" stories for another recent example.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

I understand you feel your baby bell livelihood is being threatened because a consumer-oriented website doesn't regurgitate the world-view forged in Qwest meeting rooms, but on top of attacks of objectivity, now you're just being obnoxious and ignoring the things I'm writing.

One last time:
said by you :
Not even Tampa is claiming they "made it up entirely
From the article:
quote:
Smith, who negotiated with Verizon in Tampa, says Martin's allegation neither was in nor a condition of the franchise agreement. Martin's characterization, the lawyer said, was "complete and abject fiction."
Fiction as you're aware, is something that is made up. Now let's look at what I wrote:
quote:
Some localities say that the FCC and telco lobbyists demonized the existing franchise system to get that vote through and, in some cases, made up stories entirely.
Note I don't claim the FCC lied, I point out that's the claim of the municipality, which it is.

I'm sorry you think I'm being unfair. I think it's unfair you feel the need to attack my objectivity instead of the facts because something I wrote doesn't mesh with your world-view.

jslik
That just happened
Premium
join:2006-03-17
said by dynodb:

I'm on my own side; video isn't a major part of Qwest's business and the franchising issue has little or no affect on my employer at all. You see I have cable at home, and am paying rather high rates due to the Minneapolis city-imposed cable franchise monopoly in my town. Franching limits competition, and thus hurts the consumer- me.
You do realize that you implicitly rebutted your own argument in the same paragraph?

"video isn't a major part of Qwest's business and the franchising issue has little or no affect on my employer at all. You see I have cable at home, and am paying rather high rates due to the Minneapolis city-imposed cable franchise monopoly in my town."

...and why is Qwest not offering video in a major way? Is it local franchising, or the fact that a major rollout would be billions, which Qwest doesn't have? It's economics, not local franchising, that is preventing real competition. The telcos were specifically given 4 ways of entering the video market in the 1996 Telecom Act, and they told Congress that with the passage, they'd get into video. They've done squat. That's local government's fault now?

said by dynodb:

As far as the city of Tampa suggesting it's merely a "dream list". Yeah, right; how naive would a person have to be to buy that story?
Obviously, you don't know how these negotiations take place. Go do some research between what cities asked for initially and what they actually got.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

All good points -- as an aside Qwest has an RFP out considering video delivery and I believe they've pushed for a statewide franchise in Colorado which impacts them video or no -- so yeah, Qwest is very much interested in how this plays out.
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Gee, which side are you on Karl?

I'm sure Qwest is quite interested, but for right now it's not having a big impact on their business, and certainly isn't affecting my employement- that was the only point I was trying to make since you implied that my opinion was perhaps colored by my employer whom I do not represent in any way- my opinions are my own.
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN
said by jslik:

Obviously, you don't know how these negotiations take place. Go do some research between what cities asked for initially and what they actually got.
Maybe, maybe not- I'm not a negotiator.

However, you didn't find this a bit... questionable?

Smith said Tampa gave Verizon a $13 million "needs assessment" that he says was required by law in order to obtain contributions for equipment for public access and government channels. The city's existing cable franchise, Bright House Networks, had paid $5.5 million and pledged $1 million more, he said.

Smith also said under Florida law, a competitor would be required to match that amount to obtain a franchise.
If incumbent Bright House paid and pledged $6.5 million and law requires Verizon merely match that, why would they now "need" $13 million for Verizon to enter the market? This strikes me as either protection of the incumbent monopoly or simple greed barely distinguishable from legalized extortion, hence my skepticism concerning Tampa's side of the story.
PeterCollins

join:2005-05-23
Geneva, IL

1 edit
said by dynodb:

You see I have cable at home, and am paying rather high rates due to the Minneapolis city-imposed cable franchise monopoly in my town. Franching limits competition, and thus hurts the consumer- me.
So a franchise making sure that all parts of Minneapolis are covered with cable services somehow hurts you?

Limits competition? It forces all to play on the same field. From a city's point of view, they should be looking to having all of their citizens treated equally.

And it's certainly not a city imposed "monopoly" either as any number of entrants could enter the arena...they just choose not to do so...much in the same way you don't see Verizon or Qwest doing serious overbuilds in AT&T territories and vice versa.
--
Peter I. Collins
Information Technologies Manager
City of Geneva, Illinois
pcollins@geneva.il.us
630.232.1743

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