Dave Camp’s Spin on Why He Voted to Destroy Internet Freedoms
Dave Camp, along with most other Republicans and a few Democrats, voted against net neutrality and non-discrimination amendments, and for giving AT&T, Verizon, and other big corporations control of the Internet. Here is how is justified his votes, along with translations of what he really means.
Washington, DC – Responding to overwhelming public demand for more choices among cable television providers, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) last night voted with a majority of the House to update the nation’s telecommunications laws. Among other reforms, the legislation creates a single, national approval process to speed the entry of competitors into the cable television market.
“Overwhelming public demand...” Yes, the big telcoms spent more than $5 million dollars buying, excuse me, lobbying Congress. That’s a lot of money, but I’m not sure that is the same as “public demand.” Also, having only one national office (run by a Bush appointee) for the “approval process” makes it so much easier for the big telcoms to get into the cable television market. [This is off the subject, but wasn’t it AT&T and Verizon who gave the government our private phone records? Does anybody smell a little “I’ll scratch your back, and you scratch mine” here?]
“Technology has given rise to a vast array of companies able to provide cable services,” said Camp. “The old system of obtaining a franchise locality by locality, however, was keeping millions of Americans from having a choice as to who would provide that service. Instead of having companies apply for a franchise in 34,000 different jurisdictions, this bill creates a one-stop shopping center – one national franchising system which will bring choice to consumers, competition to the cable market and lower prices for everyone.”
Translation: if you’re not a multi-billion dollar cable company able to contribute significant funds to campaign chests, forget about starting you own local company–you’ll never make it past the receptionist. Forget about communities like Mt. Pleasant providing a wireless “bubble” that would allow low-income citizens access to the Internet. Forget about local or national programming that might in any way be critical of the big telcoms, programming, for example, that might question who controls the news.
Local telephone companies now have the ability to offer a pay TV service that is similar to, and will compete with, cable TV. But, in order to do so, competitors to cable must reach time-consuming “franchise agreements” with 34,000 unique jurisdictions. One company official testified that if AT&T signed a franchise agreement every day, it would take more than seven years to complete its deployment plan.
Anyone see a bit of a contradiction here? If you have a “local” telephone company, why would you have to apply to 34,000 unique jurisdictions? On the other hand, apparently AT&T wants to feel like a “local” company...don’t you feel better knowing that?
Study after study has shown that increased video competition will lead to lower cable prices. According to the Government Accountability Office, where there is true cable competition, cable rates are typically 15 percent lower. Experience shows that the savings and choice could be even greater. In Keller, Texas, where Verizon deployed its FiOS TV in September, more than 33 percent of eligible homes signed up for the service. Facing new competition, incumbent cable provider Charter has lowered prices 25 percent.
Dave: that’s a good statistic. So, how many other instances can you find where that has happened? Oh, and how many smaller companies did Charter put out of business when it rolled into town?
Camp noted that the bill preserves municipalities’ right to collect up to a six percent fee from pay-TV providers. Part of this fee will go towards ensuring local communities can continue to offer public, educational and governmental (PEG) stations. The act also allows localities to retain control of their rights-of-way. Additionally, to protect consumer choice, the FCC is authorized under the legislation to step in if a locality tries to unfairly use its rights-of-way authority to block new competitors from entering a local market.
About this fee... Hmmm. In Mt. Pleasant, for instance, the local cable company offers public, educational and governmental (PEG) stations as part of their contract with the community and because (we often overlook this) WE own the airways and are allowing the communications companies to use them (the federal government collects the fees). So Dave is telling us that under this new legislation, we have the right (?) to collect a fee. We already had that right. He further tells us that the pay-TV providers will (apparently) hold back part of the fee as a charge for offering the same programs we used to receive as part of our contracts with pay-TV providers. So we are now actually paying for the formerly contractualized programming, is this what Dave is saying?
This press release shows how Camp continually tries to pull the wool over our eyes as he sides with business in screwing his constituents. This is another reason why we need to replace him with Mike Huckleberry this November.