Testimony Of Joshua Breitbart, Philadelphia Grassroots Cable Coalition, Before The House Policy Committee Of The Pennsylvania General Assembly

I just put my never-delivered statement on “cable competition” up on the Grassroots Cable website. It’s based on the views of the Philadelphia Grassroots Cable Coalition, including the Cable Code of Conduct, as well as some generally agreed-to policy points on franchising. The coherent parts are the result of fabulous edits by Beth McConnel of PennPIRG and insightful comments from Free Press’s Russ Newman.

You can read the full statement here on the Grassroots Cable website.

Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania House Policy Committee’s Hearing on Cable Competition was indefinitely postponed. Unfortunate mostly because it means I didn’t have to shorten the statement to be read aloud in 10 minutes. I’m in the process of delivering it to the appropriate legislators in anticipation of the issue arising again.



  1. […] Remember that PA House Policy Committee hearing on “cable competition” (read: state franchising)? I sent my statement to the committee staff on Monday and got this response from one of the staffers: […]

  2. […] I wrote about the prospect of “state franchising” in April, when I posted my testimony to the House Policy Committee on the matter. (See the agenda from that hearing.) That testimony included a request to close the Comcast Loophole. The State Senate is also considering the matter. (Senate Bill 1247, House Bill 2880.) […]

  3. There is a sobering reality present in Pennsylvania today, which incumbent
    Joe Preston and the people who blindly support him may have yet to fully comprehend – there is so much more to politics than what State Representative Joe Preston has offered District 24.

    Possibly nothing more than just election year theatrics, at one point Mr. Preston’s Consumer Affairs Committee had the majority of us believing landmark legislation (HB 2880) calling for cable choice and competition was poised to advance to the floor of the House for a vote.

    Interestingly, just two years ago he surprised his constituents by quickly advancing from the committee, without a single public hearing, Act 201 (legislation that made it much easier for the seediest financial interest in the country to terminate the electric, gas, and water service of poor and low-income customers).

    Nonetheless, on this occasion public hearings were held statewide to gather input and make things appear legitimate. And, together with Raymond Bunt, Jr. (R-147th District) and more than 80 additional cosponsors, the nearly flawless legislation (only lacked language to outlaw corporate redlining) was presented
    as an answer to the antiquated franchise system put in place decades ago. The redundant town-by-town franchises processes currently in place dramatically delays’ consumer choice and, in fact, increase the cost of doing business,
    i.e., constituents not cable companies actually foot the franchises revenues.

    Cable companies with long-standing franchises (Comcast) argued against the legislation, and opposition centered on a big lie: “municipalities won’t get
    their franchise fees.”

    Telecommunications firms (Verizon) and consumer agencies argued the proposed streamlined franchising process would better benefit customers by ushering in a myriad of TV choices and lower prices.

    And, although an apparent majority of the public, education, and government access channels, and pertinent union membership groups testified that they approved the proposed legislation, last week Joe Preston pulled the bill from consideration.

    Since 1995 cable rates have increased more than 86 percent.

    Since 2001 cable prices have increased four times faster than the rate of the consumer price index.

    Joe Preston must go!


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