WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Bell telephone companies pressure Congress and statehouses for one-sided legislation that would give them privileged regulatory status in the video marketplace, they continue to flood the airwaves and print media with a multitude of advertising that distorts the truth, according to a research paper released today by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).
“Phone Companies and the Truth: A Bad Connection,” provides a fact-filled rebuttal to claims made by the Bell companies and their “supporters” in recent advertising. In addition to using false and misleading advertising in order to convince Congress they should receive special favors, the Bells also continue to pay third-party organizations to run advertising and advocate their viewpoint without disclosing Bell funding of those groups, NCTA said.
“As many of their former and vanquished competitors have experienced, the Bell companies are once again using false and misleading advertising to lobby for special favors that benefit only them,” said Rob Stoddard, Senior Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs for NCTA. “In Washington, DC, they are spending tens of millions on highly negative and demonstrably false advertising. What’s shameful and ironic is that this forms the basis for the Bells’ heavy-handed lobbying for a sweetheart deal.”
For instance, such a sweetheart deal was achieved in Texas recently, as the paper points out: “AT&T itself has just announced telephone rate hikes for 30% of its customers in Texas after it was awarded favorable franchise legislation,” the paper says.
“Legislators, policy makers, and consumers should scrutinize every claim made in the Bells’ advertising, as well as every argument made in their lobbying and advocacy efforts, to protect themselves against false claims and misleading statements masquerading as policy arguments,” Stoddard said.
NCTA supports reform of existing telecommunications law in light of advancing technology and a rapidly changing marketplace, and it supports measures that streamline and simplify government rules and regulations to promote competition, provided those rules apply equally to all competitors. The Bell companies by contrast are pushing federal and state legislative activities that tilt the competitive playing field strongly to their benefit.
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