Indiana Paper Gets It WRONG on Cable!

This editor, who also happens to be a member on the county board which approves cable providers, of the South Bend Tribune is against competition in the cable industry. Read the following article from the paper on March 22:

Too little time, too little thought

The Indiana General Assembly did a lot of business in 2006, considering that this was a "short session." Quite a bit of it would have been better left undone — or at least not done at this time.

In a short session, due consideration often requires that lawmakers wait until the next year, when they would have enough time to understand the content and consequences of proposed legislation. It is both inappropriate and unnerving when legislators vote for a bill because their party leaders tell them to, and without completely understanding it. In some cases, they vote for bills without even thoroughly reading them.

We are thinking of two bills in particular: House Bill 1279, which deregulates telecommunications; and House Bill 1008, which authorizes Gov. Mitch Daniels to give up operating the Indiana Toll Road and lease it to private businesses.

In the case of HB1279, pressure from lobbyists as well as party leaders proved to be too much to resist. In an act of faith, legislators approved the expansive and much amended bill to deregulate telecommunication services.

The theory is that competition, together with freedom from government regulatory authority, will serve consumers better in the long run. But experience tells us that consumers also need protection.In response to past editorials, we have been accused of dredging up ancient history when we’ve pointed out telephone service providers’ spotty record of meeting customers’ needs. Frankly, we’re happy to dredge up ancient history. The company record is all there is.

Basic phone service must remain reliable and affordable, not only now but after 2009, when deregulation will be fully in effect. There is cause for concern that profit motives will take precedence over basic consumer needs and affordability.

We object, too, to elimination of cable TV franchises issued by local governments. Local control gives consumers a place to take their issues besides a company that might or might not be responsive.

The Tribune’s editorial position regarding House Bill 1008 — "Major Moves" — has been stated so often that we presume most readers know it.
Suffice it to say at this point that we are deeply disappointed that legislators chose to ignore statewide opposition to the governor’s plan.
In northern Indiana, where the consequences of the Toll Road lease will be severely felt, opposition was extremely strong.

Lawmakers’ votes to trade control of Interstate 80-90 for a one-time payment were based on faith, not facts. The people of Indiana — and especially those who will pay the escalating tolls to drive on the highway — deserve the facts.The only fiscal analysis of the deal was performed by the company that will pay Indiana for the Toll Road. It obviously concluded that paying $3.8 billion was a good deal — for the company, that is. Whether it is a good deal for the people of Indiana remains an unanswered question. Hoosiers, lawmakers included, weren’t even told what other companies bid for the highway or what their bids were.

Taking a flat payment for the Toll Road might be a good deal in the long run. We certainly hope that it is, because it’s a done deal now.

Telecommunications deregulation and the long-term lease and privatization of a major highway should be about a lot more than the majority party giving its governor a victory. The consequences of such momentous decisions will be with Indiana residents for many years to come. We believe both were made too lightly and with too little understanding.

Clearly this editor has not done his reseach into what happens in competetive cable markets. As we have seen, other states which have passed similar legislation have seen decreases in rates of up to 25%. If you live in South Bend and would be willing to set the record straight with this editor please let us know.