Forum Sheds Light on Need for Change in California Cable TV Laws;...

Forum Sheds Light on Need for Change in California Cable TV Laws; Competition Key to Giving Consumers Power in the Marketplace



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Los Angeles, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–December 13, 2005–California Assemblyman Ronald Calderon today called for consumer-focused reform of California’s cable television laws, joining dozens of consumer, small business and people with disability advocates and the CEO of Sí TV in calling for change.

Speaking at a consumer forum on the University of Southern California campus, Calderon and others discussed the expectation that California lawmakers will debate cable television franchise laws next year. Texas enacted cable reform law earlier this year, and Congress is currently debating a national reform initiative.

“The California bill must put consumers first, “said Calderon, who serves as the Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee Chair. “Cable customers are suffering under an outdated structure that has resulted in unreasonable rate increases, poor customer service and limited program options. We’ve got to do better by them.”

Calderon said a successful California bill must also address small businesses needs, as well as expanded cultural and educational programming.

Michael Schwimmer, Chief Executive Officer, Sí TV, said the current rules covering retransmission consent impedes new, independent programming. Schwimmer previously served as an executive for Dish Network and saw first hand the benefits competition had when satellite television service entered the market. He credited Dish Network for tapping the foreign language market and forcing incumbent cable companies to follow suit.

“In my view, had satellite not come along, cable would not have moved as quickly to upgrade its plant and provide advanced services to its customers,” Schwimmer said.

Esteban Soriano, a market researcher at the California Small Business Education Foundation, said American small businesses would greatly benefit from having more access to advanced telecommunications. As a rule, small businesses are literally not wired into high-speed Internet and interactive video services. Their competitors across the globe do have access to these services, and are using them to American small businesses’ disadvantage, he said.

“Competition in the marketplace will correct this because the enormous customer base potential will no longer be ignored,” Soriano said.

Today’s forum, “Cable & Broadband Competition in the Home and Office,” focused on outlining the benefits and roadblocks to competition and bridging the digital divide. Speakers also discussed the impact competition in the industry could have on workers, community programming and advanced technology, as well as the status of federal and state legislation designed to spur competition.

“Given the momentum for change coming from consumers and the various legislative initiatives already underway, we see change as inevitable,” said Jim Conran, executive director of Consumers for Cable Choice, which sponsored the forum. “Our goal is to ensure consumers are at the forefront of this legislative debate here in California and across the nation.”

About Consumers for Cable Choice, Inc.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. Consumers for Cable Choice, Inc. is a national alliance of consumer advocacy groups, private citizens and others who are committed to promoting maximum choice for consumers in cable, video and broadband services. Its mission is to actively remove the regulatory roadblocks that stand between today’s monopolies and reformed government policies that open the channels for fair competition. Consumers for Cable Choice uses a combination of education and grassroots advocacy to impact change, which will result in a deregulated and pro-consumer market that stimulates fair price, more choices and better service options in the cable television industry. President Johnson has been advocating for policies that benefit residential and small business consumers for more than 20 years. To learn more, visit http://www.Consumers4Choice.org.

Forum Sheds Light on Need for Change in California Cable TV Laws; Competition Key to Giving Consumers Power in the Marketplace