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Cable Plug and Play/Set Top Boxes

Back in the day, consumers had to lease their telephones from the phone company. AT&T got rich, while consumers had to pay a lot of money for an ugly black rotary phone that did only one thing. Now it’s different. The phones that used to cost $96 per year to rent now can be purchased for $18 and they do lots more than just dial, like redial automatically, store numbers, switch to speaker phone, or mute, etc. That’s because public policy ended AT&T’s monopoly, preventing it from using special advantages to dominate and control the devices that used the network. The resulting competition unleashed both declining prices and rapid innovation—things like dial-up Internet, and fax machines. Read More.

Media Ownership Research

Mergers between newspapers and TV stations in the same market (also known as "cross-ownership") are front and center in the ongoing media ownership proceeding at the Federal Communications Commission. Read More.

Elements of Consumer Friendly State Franchising Legislation

As Verizon begins competing in the cable marketplace with its new Fiber Optic Service (FiOS), the company has sought legislation in Pennsylvania that significantly weakens public interest protections for cable consumers without offering any meaningful competition. At its core, the proposal by Verizon takes away the rights of a local government to negotiate a video franchise agreement, replacing it with one state-wide franchise for all communities. The state-wide franchise allows Verizon to red-line communities by not building its network to serve them, threatens public, educational and government programming, and contains no rules to protect consumers in the event of service outages or billing disputes. Read More.

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