Tampa Community Leaders Join LULAC and C4CC to Call on Sens. Nelson and Martinez to Help Florida Save $626 Million by Pushing for Cable Competition This Year

Aug 29, 2006, 01:00 ET from Consumers for Cable Choice

    TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Floridians could save $626 million
 a year on their cable bills if U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez
 help pass a national cable competition bill next month, Tampa leaders will
 learn tomorrow from a national consumer advocate.
     "Consumers are working hard to pay for gas and other necessities. They
 could really use a break," said Robert K. Johnson, president of Consumers
 for Cable Choice (C4CC.) "We hope our senators keep this in mind when they
 return to work in September."
     Johnson, speaking at a community meeting at the League of United Latin
 American Citizens (LULAC) National Education Service Center, specifically
 called on U.S. Sens. Nelson and Martinez to deliver cable savings to all
 American consumers.
     Dr. Gabriela Lemus, LULAC director of policy and legislation, echoed
 his remarks. "We support cable television competition because of the
 unlimited educational potential advanced communications services offer to
 people of all ages -- at home, at school and in the workplace," Lemus said.
 "We believe that in a competitive environment, these services will
     The U.S. Senate could have enacted a national competition bill in July
 before it adjourned for its August vacation. The bill, approved in June by
 the U.S. House of Representatives and a Senate committee, could be voted on
 by the full Senate as early as September.
     Johnson outlined the benefits of injecting competition into the largely
 monopolistic cable industry, basing his savings on the Phoenix Center for
 Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies' examination of actual
 savings realized in Texas, the first state to enact a cable competition
 law. Texans have enjoyed nearly $600 million in cable savings since
 September 2005.
     The Phoenix Center study said consumers across the country would save
 more than $7 billion if robust cable competition existed across the U.S.
 Yearly savings for the southeastern region:
     *  Alabama - $134 million
     *  Arkansas - $74 million
     *  Florida - $626 million
     *  Georgia -$348 million
     *  Kentucky - $124 million
     *  Louisiana - $117 million
     *  Mississippi - $76 million
     *  North Carolina - $288 million
     *  South Carolina - $129 million
     *  Tennessee - $177 million
     *  Virginia - $236 million
     *  West Virginia - $54 million
     In addition to monthly cost savings, Johnson said competition will do
 for the cable industry what it does already in other markets: spur
 innovation and expand service to reach as many customers as possible,
 including rural residents and small business operators who have long been
 ignored by traditional, monopolistic cable companies.
     Johnson said competition in the cable television industry will bring
 the following:
     Lower cable TV costs by:
     *  Speeding entry of competing cable companies
     *  Limiting government-imposed fees that are passed on to cable
     *  Limiting service cancellation fees to 1 month
     *  Requiring cable operators to pay their subscribers $100 when the
        operator violates consumer protection or customer service rules
     High-speed communication services to rural America by:
     *  Creating a half-billion dollar annual broadband fund to speed rural
     *  Stabilizing the USF and making it sustainable
     Access to Internet services for those with disabilities by:
     *  Requiring that Internet Protocol equipment and services be accessible
        to the disabled
     *  Requiring the FCC to report to Congress regularly on the status of
     *  Including disability rights organizations in Digital TV transition
        working groups
     Enhanced public safety by:
     *  Accelerating the availability to first responders of $1B to create
        interoperable communications capabilities
     *  Providing funding for the interoperability of E-911 public safety
     Internet Consumer Protection by:
     *  Creating federal consumer protection and customer service rules for
        wireless service, including requirements to make bills easier to
     *  Implementing a "Consumer Internet Bill of Rights"
     *  Creating a 120-day complaint procedure at the FCC with fines of up to
        $500,000 per day for violations
     *  Requiring providers to offer "stand-alone" broadband Internet access
     *  Prohibiting sexually explicit content on the first page of a Web site
        or attempts to deceive others into viewing sexually explicit content
     *  Limiting advertising time during children's programming on cable TV
     *  Increasing fines for distribution of child pornography
     *  Increasing civil remedies for victims of the sexual exploitation of
     About Consumers for Cable Choice  http://www.Consumers4Choice.org
     Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., C4CC is a national alliance of
 consumer advocacy groups, private citizens -- including Floridians -- who
 are committed to promoting maximum choice for consumers in cable, video and
 broadband services. C4CC uses a combination of education and grassroots
 advocacy to impact change, which will result in a deregulated and
 pro-consumer market that stimulates fair price, more choices and better
 service options in the cable television industry. President Johnson has
 been advocating for policies that benefit residential and small business
 consumers for more than 20 years.
     About LULAC http://www.lulac.org
     LULAC is the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the United
 States and has approximately 115,000 members throughout the U.S. and Puerto
 Rico. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment,
 political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through
 community- based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils
 nationwide. The
     organization involves and serves all Hispanic nationality groups. For
 more information, call (202) 833-6130.
     Media contacts:
     Cheryl Reed
     Lizette Jenness Olmos

SOURCE Consumers for Cable Choice