Consumer Group Attacks Cable Rates


A consumer group Monday launched an Internet-based campaign to put
political pressure on cable operators for increasing programming charges.

The 'Reduce Your Rates' campaign is the work of the
Center for Digital Democracy, which created a cable-bashing, copy-and-paste
letter for instant routing to members of Congress (


'In light of ongoing cable-industry consolidation, the `don't protect cable
consumers' slant of the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] and recent
revelations about misspending of funds at Adelphia Communications [Corp.], it's
time for the public to take up the issue of cable price-gouging,' said Jeff
Chester, CDD executive director, who is supporting cable-rate-reregulation

Chester said cable rates have risen 40 percent since 1996, although they were
not deregulated until 1999. Citing the FCC, Chester said cable rates for the
12-month period ending July 2001 rose 7.5 percent while inflation was 3.4

National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman Marc Osgoode
Smith said Chester's Web site contained several errors.

'Contrary to Mr. Chester's claims, the level of cable-price increases has
moderated since prices were deregulated in April 1999 compared with the three
years prior under rate regulation,' Smith said.

'At the same time, cable consumers are receiving and watching more
high-quality cable programming than ever before -- a direct result of increased
investments in programming,' he added.