Consumer Groups Seek Cable Regulation

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Washington -- Consumer groups plan to advocate passage of federal legislation
designed to regulate cable-TV pricing and packaging in an effort to trim the
size of monthly cable bills.

The legislative campaign is being spearheaded by the Consumers Union and the
Consumer Federation of America, which released a report Wednesday claiming that
cable operators are falsely blaming higher programming costs for rising consumer
rates.

CU senior director of public policy and advocacy Gene Kimmelman said he plans
to seek legislation that would empower state regulatory commissions to oversee
cable rates and would require cable operators to allow consumers to purchase
cable networks on an a la carte basis.

"Our concern is that the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission,
Michael Powell, is coddling price-gouging cable monopolists," Kimmelman said at
a press conference here. "It's time for Congress to come back in and revisit
this issue."

National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman Rob Stoddard
said the consumer groups failed to take into account cable's $70 billion
investment in new facilities and the industry's growing competition from the
direct-broadcast satellite industry.

"Claims about cable prices by consumer-group lobbyists continue to be
misleading and factually inaccurate. Cable prices reflect cable costs, and cable
continues to deliver great value for the dollar compared to every entertainment
alternative," Stoddard said in a prepared statement.

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