Consumer Choice Harmed by Exclusive Cable TV Deals with Building Owners, Verizon Executive Says

WASHINGTON - The future of broadband Internet deployment and the ability of consumers to choose their cable television provider were among the top issues considered by the Federal Communications Commission at its open meeting today.

The commission began a rulemaking procedure supporting consumers who live in apartment or condominium buildings - so-called multiple dwelling units (MDU).  At issue is whether cable companies should be allowed to strike new, or enforce old, exclusive service contracts with building owners or managers that effectively block consumers who live or work in the buildings from choosing a new television provider.

The commission also began an inquiry into "broadband industry practices."  This effort is designed to gather facts related to consumers' access to the Internet and the content of their choice.  At his recent reconfirmation hearing in the Senate, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said he would be vigilant in monitoring the Internet marketplace, using the commission's authority to enforce its net neutrality principles.

The following statements on the cable choice (MDU) and broadband initiatives should be attributed to Susanne Guyer, Verizon senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs.

Cable Choice (MDU):

"People shouldn't be denied their choice of cable TV providers simply because they live in an apartment or condo building.  Exclusive access deals between building owners or developers and cable companies deny consumers choice and keep cable rates high by blocking competition.  The FCC is right to investigate this issue."

Broadband Industry:

"Verizon supports and protects consumers' rights to full Internet access, and we provide them with an unmatched online experience.  We believe this inquiry will show a healthy broadband marketplace in which consumers have access to a growing number of choices. Net neutrality - better named net regulation - is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist."