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Consumer Forum on Cable Competition Outlines How Congress Can Help Small Business Grow and Help American Consumers

Consumer Forum on Cable Competition Outlines How Congress Can Help Small Business Grow and Help American Consumers

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study to be released this morning at a first-of-its-kind forum highlights the significant and tangible benefits a competitive cable television marketplace offers America's small businesses and consumers.

"The current cable franchise system impedes economic growth for the nation's small businesses by inhibiting competitive pricing and technological innovation," according to Dr. Esteban Soriano, the study's author. "As the U.S. seeks to compete in world markets, this finding has implications far beyond the immediate scope of this study."

The Soriano study is the highlight of the forum's morning session. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee, sponsor of the "Video Choice Act" now before Congress, will give the keynote address at 1 p.m. Conference attendees will also honor LaChania Govan, who gained national attention earlier this year when a cable customer service representative addressed her using a derogatory name. Ms. Govan will be lauded as a champion for consumers because of her dignified, yet firm, way of demanding quality customer service.

The forum, "Cable and Broadband Competition: In the Home and in the Office," is sponsored by Consumers for Cable Choice and the National Consumers League. It begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Resources for the Future Conference Center, 1400 16th St. NW, Washington D.C.

The gathering of policy makers, consumer advocates and academics provides an opportunity to support Congressional members already working to bring competition to the cable television industry and to encourage others to join the effort.

"Small business is the engine that drives America, and it's in need of a technological tune-up that only Congress can give," said Robert K. Johnson, president of Consumers for Cable Choice. "Consumers are paying too much for too little with no end in sight unless Congress changes current laws to encourage competition in the cable television marketplace. This will force service providers to offer better price, better service and innovative programming."

The study on how competition can help small business was commissioned by Consumers for Cable Choice and prepared by the California Small Business Education Foundation. It is entitled "Broadband Video Access and Economic Advancement: Cable's Unrealized Potential for Big Impact on Small Business." The full report is available at http://www.consumers4choice.org/ .

Dr. Soriano's study focuses on California small business as a microcosm for the United States. It finds that most small business owners do not use cable Internet or TV services because traditional cable companies do not make these tools readily or affordably available. The study finds that small business owners believe competition in the cable industry will result in better pricing, technology, and accessibility that will allow them to improve their profits.

Participants at the day-long forum will discuss what competition offers consumers, as well as the roadblocks to competition; the impact a competitive market will have on workers; community programming and advanced technology; and the status of federal and state efforts to encourage competition. Ms. Govan, the woman mistreated by her cable customer service representative, will speak briefly about customer service.

"We respect consumers who stand up for their rights, and Ms. Govan has reminded us all that we need to hold our service providers to the highest standard of service," said Jim Conran, executive director of Consumers for Cable Choice. "We believe that if competition is allowed to flourish, providers will be forced to remember how important consumers are and treat them with the respect and courtesy they deserve."

About Esteban Soriano, Ph.D.

Dr. Soriano holds a Ph.D. in Communications Research from Stanford University. He is a Ford Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and Oxford Roundtable Fellow. As founder and president of two applied research firms, he has managed more than 700 research projects. He is designated as a high-level expert in small business issues with the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor. He has served on three presidential commissions and was a research fellow on a U.S. Department of Commerce study of the deployment of telecommunications in rural America. He served for seven years on the City of Riverside Board of Public Utilities, two years on the policy committee of the American Public Power Association, and two years on the community advisory panel of Pacific Bell. He currently serves on the Public Interest Energy Research Independent Review Panel of the California Energy Commission.

About Consumers for Cable Choice, Inc.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. Consumers for Cable Choice, Inc. is a national alliance of consumer advocacy groups, private citizens and others who are committed to promoting maximum choice for consumers in cable, video and broadband services. Its mission is to actively remove the regulatory roadblocks that stand between today's monopolies and reformed government policies that open the channels for fair competition. Consumers for Cable Choice uses a combination of education and grassroots advocacy to impact change, which will result in a deregulated and pro-consumer market that stimulates fair price, more choices and better service options in the cable television industry. President Robert K. Johnson has been advocating for policies that benefit residential and small business consumers for more than 20 years. Executive Director Jim Conran has represented consumer issues in the corporate, public and nonprofit sectors for 25 years. He has expertise in regulatory and public policy. To learn more, visit http://www.consumers4choice.org/ .

Media Contacts: Cheryl Reed Robert K. Johnson, president Synergy Marketing Group, Inc. Consumers for Cable Choice (317) 446-5240 (317) 506-7348 [email protected]

Consumers for Cable Choice, Inc.

CONTACT: Media Contacts: Cheryl Reed of Synergy Marketing Group, Inc.,
+1-317-446-5240, [email protected] ; or Robert K. Johnson, president
of Consumers for Cable Choice, +1-317-506-7348

Web site: http://www.consumers4choice.org/

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