alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

HIGHTOWER: Re-Regulate Cable Rates

A car repair shop advertised: "Why go elsewhere and be cheated? Come here first."That thought could just as well be applied to Congress, which cheated us big time when they passed the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act. This big honker of a bill was rammed through Congress by lobbyists for the media giants, phone companies and cable operators. Among other things, the act deregulated cable TV companies, which promised us at the time that de-reg would spur competition and lower our monthly bills.Well, hello suckers! Two years later, instead of competition we've gotten a wave of megamergers that have reduced competition, and our monthly bills have gone up, not down.Now here come the cable companies with another sock-it-to-you round of rate hikes, which Rep. Ed Markey calls "a looming cable rate El Nino." For example, Time Warner begins imposing another 10 percent increase on our bills this month.To add insult to injury, the cable giants are blaming customers for the rising bills! They say that we viewers are demanding more cable choices, and that they're having to pay more for this programming.Before you swallow that, check this out: the cable companies also own the programming companies! Time Warner owns HBO, CNN, the Home Shopping Network, TNT, Cinemax, Turner Broadcasting and the Cartoon Network, while also co-owning Bravo, Court TV, American Movie Classics, Comedy Central and the Black Entertainment Network. Likewise, the largest cable company, TCI, owns such program providers as the Discovery Channel, Encore, the Learning Channel, Starz and the Family Channel.Sure these cable operators are paying more for their programming -- they're paying themselves! What a racket.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Rep. Ed Markey has a bill to re-regulate these cheats and stop the cable-rate rip-off. Call him on 202-225-2836.For more information:Rep. Ed Markey: 202-225-2836Source:"The interconnected world of the cable oligopoly" by Angela Littwin. Extra!: Nov./Dec. 1995. "Climbing cable rates bring call for re-regulation" by David Lieberman. USA Today: Dec. 18, 1997.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close