Telco & Crossfire
Date: Sun, 4 Feb 96 12:29:20 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Telco & Crossfire
From: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting <email@example.com>
On Thursday, Feb 1, both houses of Congress passed the
long-anticipated telecommunications bill.
The rhetoric used by the bill's proponents is that the legislation will
"encourage competition." A more accurate description would be that it will
encourage monopolies. For example, in most of the U.S., the local phone and
cable companies will be able to merge outright, while in heavily populated
areas, they can buy nearly half of each other.
The legislation could well mean higher cable rates for consumers: The
charges for many cable systems will be deregulated immediately, and all
cable rates will be deregulated by 1999. Prices are likely to rise since
there will be no price regulation for the local cable monopolies, since
there will not be competition for them in many cases.
Instead of coming out with legislation that will breakup the advancing media
monopolies, the legislation makes it easier for the huge media corporations
to get even bigger. The new legislation allows one company to own TV
stations that reach 35 percent of the US population -- up from 25 percent.
It also removes all national limits on how many radio stations one
broadcaster can own, and has very lax limits on how many stations in a
particular market can be owned by the same company.
Also, TV broadcast license can only be challenged every eight years, up from
five. This makes the law that the airwaves serve the "public interest" and
the licensee be of "good character" even less of a reality.
And while the legislation has been hyped as "deregulation," it's extremely
regulatory when it comes to content. The current compromise contains a
version of the Exon Amendment, which restricts "indecent, filthy and lewd"
material on the internet -- making online services second class as far as
the First Amendment is concerned.
With emerging technologies, there needs to be a telecommunications bill --
but this bill was largely written by various commercial interests. Issues
of how we can create access for other, non- commercial voices, have not been
addressed, since such voices played such a small role in writing this bill.
Clinton has indicated he will sign the bill, but the president has been
known to change his mind on occasion. You can urge him to veto the
telecommunications bill by:
Calling the White House at 202-456-1111
Or you can write to:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500
If you've tuned into Crossfire on CNN the last few nights (Jan 31
to Feb 2), you've seen FAIR's Jeff Cohen as the co-host. We expect
CNN to decide on permanent co-host(s) soon. If you'd like to let
CNN know that you'd like to see a bonafide progressive, like
Barbara Ehrenreich, Jeff Cohen, Jim Hightower, or Christopher
Hitchens represent the left, now is the time to tell them if you
have not already done so:
Or you can write to:
One CNN Center
Atlanta, GA 30348-5366
© 1996 Peter Langston