Verizon to Cablevision: Let Customers Choose

NEWARK, N.J. -- Verizon today accused Cablevision of using deceptive and misleading print and radio ads to deliberately distort the facts about cable choice legislation in New Jersey.

An ad published yesterday in the Asbury Park Press, as well as radio ads being broadcast on WKXW-FM and other radio stations around the state, use scare-tactics and distortions to lobby for legislation that would protect Cablevision's cable-TV monopoly.

In an apparent effort to cloak Cablevision's involvement, the ads note that the sponsor is CSC Holdings. However, CSC Holdings is the operator of Cablevision Systems Inc.

As the widely supported Cable Choice and Competition Act moves to final approval in the New Jersey Legislature, Cablevision is making a desperate, last-minute effort to maintain its monopoly grip on New Jersey cable-TV consumers.

"It's time for Cablevision to step aside and allow true competition to flourish in New Jersey," said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey. "In the past 35 years, Cablevision has barely ventured beyond Mercer County. It's nothing short of hypocritical for this North Jersey cable operator to criticize anyone for trying to bring an end to their stranglehold of the marketplace in New Jersey."

Setting the record straight, Verizon identified these Cablevision misleading statements:

Cablevision Claim: Under video franchise legislation, Verizon will not serve South Jersey.

Truth: Unlike Cablevision, Verizon is committed to bringing cable competition and choice to as many consumers and communities in New Jersey as quickly as possible. Verizon has already announced it is building the network in nearly 20 municipalities in Burlington and Camden counties, and will soon announce many additional municipalities in Gloucester County. In addition, if the legislation is enacted, Verizon has agreed to provide cable service in every county seat in its territory, including county seats and nearby communities in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties -- well over 40 additional South Jersey communities initially, with more to come.

Cablevision Claim: Franchise fees will increase even if consumers don't see competition.

Fact: Under the legislation, the total cost of cable TV is likely to fall. While the legislation includes a slight rise in franchise fees when 60 percent of a particular town is determined to have competition, that's only a small part of the story. What Cablevision doesn't tell consumers is that when Verizon competes around the nation, cable rates fall. While consumers may pay 80 cents more in monthly franchise fees, they're likely to save $15 or more on their monthly cable TV bills.

"The consumers throughout the state have clearly spoken: They want choice and competition, and they want it now," said Bone. "Cablevision should be embarrassed for running this campaign of distortion. Rather than fighting with Verizon in the media, Cablevision should work with us as we try to bring competition quickly to the New Jersey marketplace."

In May, both the state Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly approved legislation that will streamline New Jersey's antiquated, anti-consumer video franchise rules. In a procedural move, the Senate is required to vote again, and that vote could come next week.

"We encourage members of the Legislature and the governor to focus on the many benefits of the video franchise legislation," said Bone. "With it, New Jerseyans all over the state will soon benefit from cable choice and competition. We look forward to bringing our video product to the New Jersey marketplace and offering consumers new options, improved services and an end to the Cablevision monopoly."

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 53 million customers nationwide. Verizon Business operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks. Verizon Telecom is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 250,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.