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Marianne Paskowski

Cox’s Esser Blasts WSJ

January 16, 2007 3:11 PM

Don’t miss today’s “Letters to the Editor” section in the esteemed Wall Street Journal. Cox Communications president Pat Esser took umbrage with a WSJ editorial that accused cable operators of slowing down the process for phone giants like Verizon and AT&T to enter into video franchises.

Esser is referring to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to speed up the franchise approval for telcos just now entering the video turf. And Esser is right. Cable has had to live with cumbersome franchise renewals for 40 years and is simply asking for the same treatment the telcos just got from the FCC. In his heated, but well reasoned letter, Esser pointed out several mistakes in the WSJ editorial and said he welcomes competition from the telcos.

So do you think we’ll see a heated response from the telcos? Not on your life, I would wager. Why kick up the dust after such a stunning victory?


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Comments (8)

David Andersen:

Video franchising at the local level is a proven, effective method for awarding franchises/licenses to provide video. It allows for oversight of technical and customer service standards by local government in representation of their local citizenry. This process works. It isn't broken. There's no need to fix it as Telcos claim. It's ludicrous to say cable companies don't have competition, and that local government would want only one franchisee in their marketplace. BellSouth, now AT&T, already has twelve local franchises in the metro Atlanta area alone, providing competition to Comcast and Charter. Satellite companies like DirecTV and DISH Network have the ability to compete against cable and telephone companies in the video marketplace WITHOUT a franchise. Telephone companies want not only to jump start their entry into the local video marketplace, they also want the ability to cream skim the market, and cherry pick the best consumer demographics. Local franchising isn't broken. It doesn't need to be fixed!

Jeff Mulligan:


What else do you expect from the neanderthalic Wall Street Journal edit page? Notwithstanding itsr penchant for turning logic on its head, the WSJ editorial board constantly cheerleads for capitalistic greed. God forbid that their powerful telco buddies should have to face competition or succumb to reasoned consumer choice. Consumers never get the benefit of the doubt, much less support, in the WSJ edit-page view of the world, nor do fractious, internally competitive industries like cable, when the oligopolistic buddies of Dow Jones's powers-that-be feel the pressure of true competition.

It's the same old story. Capitalists decry competition when it's aimed at unsettling their feifdoms. But they demand competitive "openness" (read "regulatory favors") when they cannot compete fair and square trying to steal some other guy's bacon.

I say: fine. Let capitalists be rapacious. That's how you create wealth. Socialists don't know how to create wealth, but they do have a moral leg up when it comes to using wealth. The American model, or what should be the American model of a well-regulated marketplace ensuring a level playing field for all, is what should prevail. It cannot prevail with the Bushian plutocrats in power. But maybe the new Congress, and even someday, maybe, hope upon hope, some genuine Ripon Society type Republicans, can restore economic and regulatory sanity to our economy.


Three Cheers for Pat Esser! He is right on point to push back on the notion that (a) there is no competition in the cable industry; and (b) the big telcos need federal help to compete. It's absurd that the government -- states or federal -- would create rules to favor the two largest telecommunications companies in the country -- AT&T and Verizon. We have heard the promises of the big telcos before. If ACA's members -- small, rural cable operators -- can live by the rules and work with local governments as partners to provide services in our communities, then why can't the big telcos? Simple. They don't want to. They'd rather come back to the public dole for favored treatment rather than facing true competition with cable and others playing by the same rules.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Dave,
I'm more concerned about anything that I read in the WSJ, was the paper's lack of knowledge about state wide franchises. Verizon is pushing here in Mass. , after, getting the 90 day shortened approval process, at the national level. Now Verizon is going state by state.

I live in a small town, and participate on the town's cable & telecom committee.The danger here, that the WSJ didn't touch on, is that local governments would lose control of the process. This FCC is so screwed up. And so are the states, I believe 9, have granted state control. Meanwhile, Mass. won't go that way, if I have any say.


Love to hear from someone who was in the trenches and knows what's at stake. Our local voice.

Marianne Paskowski:

Oh Jeff,
Thanks for weighing in. I never thought of cable MSO's as socialists. And I'm not sure that's what you intended to say. All I know is that something blows big time with the Bush FCC.

Marianne Paskowski:

I challenge you. What are you going to do, heading the association for small cable ops. Unfortunately, the problem isfar larger. The larger cable MSO's, that you don't represent, opened up the tent by declaring they wanted out of PEG (public, educational, government) channels. The towns are angry. I live in one. And it is Comcast. It's brutal.


Good for Pat Esser. And I agree with you. I don't for a minute think that the telcos will say a word about Pat Esser's piece. It's just a little gnat on their leg... They have so many resources and now they have a much easier road ahead since the rules have been changed in their favor.

Marianne Paskowski:

Eventually the new rules will apply to cable too, but for now, the newcomers to video, the telcos, have the upper hand.

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