Supporters of the Video Competition Act say it will simplify the process for video providers to enter a television market. However, UW-Madison telecommunications professor Barry Orton says it's a bad deal for consumers because it would strip them of many rights they currently have. Also, Orton warns that current financial arrangements would be upset to the benefit of cable and telephone companies. Orton says the bill would create an atmosphere that gives video providers unregulated control over consumers.
The bill is designed to allow telephone companies to more easily provide video services throughout the state by simplifying the process currently in place for franchise agreements. Supporter says the move will lower prices. Orton says opening the market doesn't always mean a smaller bill for consumers, as has been demonstrated in other markets. He points to cases where initial price wars drove down the price, but then it swung back to a higher level afterwards.
Lawmakers will hold a public hearing on the bill Tuesday at the Capitol.