Santa Monica, CA ‘ The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights called upon California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to significantly amend his legislation allowing telephone companies to provide video services without requiring the same local accountability that applies to cable companies.
“Mr. Speaker, this is a defining moment for you and consumers in California,” wrote FTCR president Jamie Court. “AT&T has dominated this debate. We hope amendments in the Senate will restore balance to this debate and improve history’s recollection of it’. No one likes big bad cable companies that gouge consumers or the cable guy that keeps you waiting all day. But freeing telephone companies from the control of local cable franchise rules isn’t in consumers’ interest either.”
FTCR called for the following amendments to AB 2987 in light of passage last week of federal legislation in the House of Representatives giving telephone companies new power to provide video services without local franchises and to charge fees for express Internet access. Nunez was asked to:
1) Establish reasonable requirements for a local franchise for telecommunications companies wishing to provide video services, thereby answering complaints by AT&T about unreasonable hurdles at the local level, but not to eviscerate (as is currently proposed) the local franchise with a meaningless state franchise;
2) Require, as a condition of receiving a franchise, that telecommunications companies agree to “net neutrality” on their new video/Internet pipelines for the duration of the franchise;
3) Guarantee, as cable companies have recommended, that telephone companies not be allowed to redline and be subject to equal build-out requirements now required of cable companies;
4) Not weaken obligations that now exist under local cable franchises in order to win cable companies’ support for AB 2987;
5) Require telephone companies to offer a basic, low-cost package of video services to low income individuals.
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