« PreviousContinue »
All of these restrictions remain essential to ensure
against repetition of past predation by the Bell Companies. This fact is self-evident upon a brief examination of their
Since entry of the MFJ, the Bell
Companies have launched an all-out campaign against cable
companies seeking to expand into non-video services.
regulatory proceedings as well as forms of Bell Company
"self-help" have been instituted to impede innovative services by cable. One particularly graphic illustration involved a
Bell telephone company actually trying to have cable company employees arrested for attempting to string fiber on telephone
company poles. 7
To date, unfair competition by Bell Companies has
encompassed facilities and non-video services competition.
there can be no doubt that if the restrictions on content were
lifted, the Bell Companies' campaigns would be extended to
See Comments of New England Cable Television Association, submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, CC Docket No. 87-266 (filed December 16, 1988).
these restrictions prevent video distribution competition
and/or that they prohibit the availability of new technologies,
such as fiber optics, to consumers.
But the truth is that the
Bell Companies are free to deploy fiber, or any other
They are also free to provide video
transport, construction, and maintenance services, such as
Pacific Bell provides in Palo Alto and C&P provides here in the
District of Columbia.
What they are not allowed to do is to provide content. Whether that content happens to be television or the electronic word, this policy remains ultimately sound. The central
importance of diversity to our society has always made
enforcement of Sherman Act principles all the more critical
when competition in First Amendment activities is threatened.
In such cases, the Sherman Act protects not only economic efficiency, it preserves the broad availability of information
from a multitude of speakers.
The consent decree and its line-of-business
restrictions have well served U.S. consumers, and they should
not be altered.
There have been no changes in the competitive
or regulatory environment that would warrant removal of the
line-of-business restrictions. Although there is a lot of talk
about "new" safeguards, there is little basis for believing
that regulatory solutions can be effective.
It bears emphasis
that 1989's so-called new safeguards are really not
significantly different from those that failed miserably in the 1960's and 1970's.
And as the Justice Department explained
during the Tunney Act proceedings:
At the heart of the government's case in United
Neither of these
BOC entry into electronic publishing generally, and
cable TV specifically, would thus be an open invitation to the
types of anticompetitive behavior that resulted in the
Only if and when the Bell Companies lose their
monopoly in local distribution or circumstances otherwise
dramatically change, will it be appropriate to consider modifying the Decree. In the meantime, the MJ provides the only effective way of promoting and protecting the growth of
information services markets in the United States.
If I may, I would like to submit for the record an
NCTA paper which reviews the documented abuses committed by the
Bell Companies since divestiture.
I would be pleased to answer
any questions you may have.
Response of the United States, 47 Fed. Reg. 23,320, 23,336 (1982).
THE COSTS OF TELEPHONE COMPANY ENTRY INTO THE TELEVISION BUSINESS:
A REVIEW OF TELEPHONE COMPANY ANTICONSUMER
AND ANTICOMPETITIVE BEHAVIOR
NCTA Position Paper
Research and Policy Analysis Department