The Spectacle Blog

TV for the People

By on 9.19.06 | 9:55AM

Lost in the midst of security votes in the Senate is another issue important to American consumers: video choice.

According to Capitol Hill sources, the Senate does not intend to bring Senator Ted Stevens' video-choice bill to the floor any time soon, perhaps not at all before the legislative year expires. The bill would streamline telecom and other companies abilities to offer consumers an alternative to cable TV, which in many places across the country has a monopoly hold on local TV franchises.

Now comes word of a bipartisan poll that shows that the vast majority (82%) of likely voters favor choice in cable TV because it would likely result in lower prices, better customer service (81%), delivery of new technologies and enhanced services to customers (78%).

The video choice bill is a winner for Republicans, if only because it represents a "hidden tax" cut for consumers, about $100 to $200 less annually in lower cable TV bills per household, according to a study by Banc of America.

"We know it's a winner, which is why we aren't going to let it reach the floor before election day," says a Democrat leadership aide. "We aren't going to give Republicans a victory on anything if we can avoid it."

Another sticking point; Sen. Harry Reid's support of Internet regulatory language some far-left members of his caucus support and want included in the video-choice legislation.

UPDATE: We should note that the poll cited above was one commissioned by Verizon, a company that is one of the big proponents of the video-choice legislation. And it isn't just video-choice that Democrats are blocking. There are a series of politically helpful tax-cut and appropriations bills that are being held up due to election year jockeying.

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