Thursday, February 24, 2005

When Pigs Fly

Elizabeth Beaty, Executive Director of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, recently distributed a document that outlined the “core values” of NATOA. This effort to establish the fundamentals of what will be pursued by NATOA in regard to the rewrite of the Telecommunications Act has been joined by the National League of Cities, and there is a plan to work with the United States Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and the Alliance for Community Media. You can learn more about NATOA’s policy positions by going to http://www.natoa.org/

The document is decidedly pro-consumer, pro-economic development; proactive in the areas of emergency communications, localism and diversity of media, municipal telecommunications, local authority over rights of way, universal service and the ability of local governments to police telecommunications corporations in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of its citizens.

Out of curiosity, I decided to compare NATOA’s core values against those of the telco corps. I thought perhaps they weren’t that far apart and maybe if we all could work to bring both sides to the table for an open and frank discussion, we just might find common ground. Wouldn’t that be loverly?

I will outline the industry’s values one by one and let you be the judge.

VALUE: COMPETITION AND CONSOLIDATION
There is no need to promote competition, people should just take what we shovel out and stop whining about it. Haven’t these bonehead subscribers ever heard of the free market system? What? Are they all a bunch of commies? As for consolidation, we know better than those so-called “consumers” what they should see, hear and read. After all, we’re big and our bigness makes us right, that’s just the way of the world. Half those dopes have the internet anyway and that’s why consolidation just ain’t a problem.

VALUE: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Listen, pinhead, the only economic development we’re interested in is our own. We’ve got golf courses and submarines to buy, we’ve got stadiums to plaster our name on, we’ve got politicians to grease. These are huge economic burdens and with only a 40% to 50% net profit we’re having a hard time maintaining our skyboxes at Camden Yards, so shut up about it!

VALUE: HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS
We’re all for this…we like the purty colors. However, we did not invent 911 so that’s not our responsibility to make sure it works on VOIP. To give local government the ability to require emergency override is very dangerous. Who are they to judge what is really an emergency? Pshaw! And, who do they think is gonna get the angry phone calls when Judge Judy is pre-empted?

VALUE: LOCAL TAXING AUTHORITY
Listen we all know that local government works best when it doesn’t do anything. Our goal is to make sure that local government takes it marching orders from the states or better yet, from inside the beltway. Local governments should not have to worry their tiny little heads about complicated things like “taxes,” “levies” and such.

VALUE: LOCALISM, DIVERSITY, MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS OWNERSHIP AND CONTENT
We do localism. We bring viewers every holdup, break-in, car accident, three alarm fire we can get our hands on and we spend at least eight minutes per broadcast doing so. In the area of diversity, it is a fact that the majority of Americans are white, young, thin, wealthy and speak some form of English, and most American women have long blonde hair and breast implants, so we have done more than enough for "diversity." What about BET or TeleMundo or Lifetime for Women? Our content is second to none, look at “Survivor” or the four golf channels or Jerry Springer. What more do people want? Intelligent discussions about issues of the day? That’s public access and we don’t do public access.

VALUE: MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Okay, this is a deal breaker. While we have not built out your town and as a consequence your town is falling behind in the digital race, it does not mean you have the right to take matters into your own hands. There is no such thing as “redlining,” we’re serving the areas where customers want our services and it’s just a fact that those hicks in Indiana and Louisiana or those crackheads in the “hood,” do not want or care about broadband.

VALUE: POLICE POWERS
Just because there have been a couple incidences of bad wiring, electrocution and violation of zoning ordinances, doesn’t mean people should get their panties in a wad. Business works best when business monitors itself. Anything we might have done wrong is something we will eventually correct in good time. Be patient. Be really, really patient.

VALUE: RIGHTS OF WAY AUTHORITY
We leave ‘em the way we found ‘em. We cut and then we pave again, so what’s the big deal? We will pay what the market will bear and you can’t ask for more than that and if you do…well there’s just one word for you…“litigation.” Comprende "litigation" mon ami?

VALUE: UNIVERSAL SERVICE
We provide universal service; didn’t you see that story about that town in Louisiana that just got phone service? Ask yourself, do all those little brats in public school really need internet access? Libraries are for books, that’s what they do best and they should stick to that. Universal service is an oxymoron anyway; nobody is providing service to the “universe”! Although if we could figure out a way to make money out in deep space, you can bet we’d be there!

Well, there you have it, the core values of the telecommunications industry. I believe that people always operate from a position of good intention so if we can just bring these two sides together we will find our differences are not so insurmountable after all! Then birds will sing, peace will reign on earth and pigs will most assuredly fly.

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1 comment:

Rich said...

Can you post the document on core values with NATOA's spin on the values? I, and perhaps others, can use the language of that document to talk to folks at City Hall in a way they understand.