Your Friendly Cable-TV Price Gouger

The Powers That Be -- both political and corporate -- are experts at fooling themselves... while mistakenly thinking that they're also fooling us.

The latest culprits in this fool's game are the barons of cable television. Lobbyists for such outfits as Time Warner, Cablevision, and Cox rammed a deregulation law through congress in 1997 that allows them to set their own rates. Trust us, they said at the time, promising that the elixir of unregulated competition would magically cause our monthly cable charges to fall.

Like rubes at their first medicine show, congress swallowed this tonic of lies -- and now, you and I are stuck with an unregulated cable-TV monopoly in each of our towns that, far from lowering our rates, has jacked up our monthly bills by 40 percent in just six years!

Well, yes, say the cable giants, but we now give you more channels than before. Who do they think they're fooling? Yes, we get more channels, but they show the same old junk, including repeats of repeats and dozens of channels we never requested and never watch. Indeed, we pay for about 63 channels, but mostly watch about eight.

Well, yes, say the giants again, still believing they're fooling us, but the fees we pay for programming are up, too, so we're being forced to raise our rates. Hey, Flim-Flam Man, in many cases you are the programmer! For example, Time Warner owns CNN, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and many others so it is paying itself for the higher program costs. Besides, the cost of all the programs you get on cable is only about $7 of your monthly cable bill, which now averages nearly $37.

Well, yes, say the giants, trying one more trick on us, but we need higher rates to survive? Survive? Your profit margins are running above 30 percent -- about three times the average of other industries!

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