Verizon Outraged by Cable Response
BroadBananas Michael Harris 3/17/2006
As you might expect, here at the Cable Digital News desk we receive quite a few press releases from broadband service providers and vendors that are best filed in the 'ludicrously self-serving nonsense' folder. Verizon Communications jumped to the head of the class in that category this week, gracing us with a release about the horrible injustice it is suffering in the Garden State. See 'Cable Industry Refuses to Run Verizon TV Commercial' at http://newscenter.verizon.com/proactive/newsroom/release.vtml?id=93314 The release leads with the following blistering accusation: 'Despite running virtually nonstop TV commercials attacking Verizon's efforts to speed choice and competition in New Jersey's cable TV market, two of the nation's largest cable companies are refusing to run a paid TV commercial from Verizon that asks consumers to support video choice. A third cable company did not respond to Verizon's request.' Horror of horrors. Could it possibly be? In a disturbing development, the cable industry's display of good business sense seems to have left Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey, apoplectic, but unfortunately not speechless. "The cable industry has been running virtually endless commercials in New Jersey attacking Verizon, yet they refuse to allow us to buy time on their channels to give another side of the story. It's outrageous," said Bone. To help thaw the ice in the cable Cold War, perhaps Mr. Bone can make a good faith gesture: allow Comcast to buy bill-stuffer advertisements, encouraging each of Verizon's phone customers to switch to Comcast Digital Voice. Then, after seeing that the Verizon team is not in the least bit hypocritical, Comcast will surely sell Verizon some local TV spots during 'South Park.' At least Verizon is straightforward about its motivations in the release, noting: 'Cable's refusal to run the ad comes as the Legislature is now debating legislation to streamline New Jersey's outdated video franchise process. On Monday, March 13, the state Senate Economic Growth Committee unanimously approved S-192, which would create a systemwide franchise process in New Jersey. Under current rules, Verizon must seek individual franchise agreements in each of the state's towns in which the company is building its network.' In other words, Verizon gets to become a cable TV provider without following the rules under which cable companies are now required to operate. And so, Mr. Bone logically concludes: "It's time for the cable industry to get out of the way compete on a level playing field." In a testament to his genuine passion for this contradiction, Mr. Bone seems unable to form a coherent sentence, even in print. It may prove helpful to fix that before Verizon takes this important message to television audiences.