Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ma Bell? Time Warner? Aaaarrrgggh!!

So you've seen the ads and heard the rumbles...the cable companies added a bazillion "shopping" channels and increased their monthly take by 5x*inflation, or whatever. Only a few years ago, cable was $25.00/month, seems to me.

Well, Ma Bell wants in on the game. Naturally, the phone companies are assaulting the cable companies for their, ah, larcenous charges, and they imply that when the phone companies get permission to compete, prices will drop like a rock.

Maybe so.

Since the cable companies have locked up the local Gummints (see your inflated cable bill,) the locals are not too enthusiastic about Ma Bell's entry into cable; the locals LIKE the money and Ma Bell isn't offering any. Therefore, the Phone Companies have gone to Congress to get authorization from the Feds.

So far, so good. But of course, the Feds have their own ideas about "what's good for you."

According to the Washington Prowler/American Spectator:

We're talking about the telecom reform bill that Rep. Joe Barton is pushing through the House Energy Committee. According to staff sources, the main goal here, apparently is to give the telephone companies like AT&T the ability to offer cable TV-like services over their broadband lines.

What should have every conservative nervous though, says an Energy staffer, is an issue that Barton, as well as Rep. Ed Markey, is pushing that would essentially impose a new layer of regulations on the Internet. "The language would eventually lead to the federal government having a say over what compaines might be able to do with their broadband networks, what services could be offered on the Internet, how people could charge or make money on the Internet," says a staffer we spoke to on Friday afternoon. "It would cede a lot more control over the Internet to the FCC. It's there in the bill, and people are missing it."

The legislation is expected to be made public sometime in the next two weeks, according to committee staff. We all know what happens when the government decides to get their regulatory mitts on anything. First it's regulation, then it's taxes. Conservatives - and Democrats during the Clinton administration - have done a good job of keeping the Internet free of both regulation and taxes. Why Joe Barton is pushing this is beyond us, but Republican leadership better start paying attention, and conservatives should let Republicans know that after months of bloated spending, regulating the Internet just won't wash.

We don't know whose "spin" the Prowler is reporting--but the cable interests come to mind. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine any legislation which actually does not have some "gimme" to the Gummint attached. It's the nature of the Party of Government.

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