Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


November 14, 2013

In light of the tragic typhoon that hit the Philippines this month, Comcast is lending a helping hand to folks who are looking to connect with affected friends and family. Residential customers who have Xfinity Voice will be able to make free calls to the Philippines now until Nov. 22. Additionally, the company has opened access to the Filipino Channel until Nov. 15 for Xfinity TV digital customers so they can stay up to date on the latest news following the storm. For more information on how Comcast customers can take advantage of the offer, visit this link.

Five years ago, small rural telephone companies throughout Pennsylvania managed to pull off something a massive and costly initiative out of Washington so far has not. In 2008, every one of these companies' customers could plug into high speed broadband.

The achievement is even more remarkable when you consider that many of the networks used to deploy broadband travel rough terrain to reach those rural customers. One of the players in the story is a 10-year-old Pennsylvania law which, among other improvements, lightened the regulatory burden for the rural incumbent phone carriers that make up the membership of the Pennsylvania Telephone Association. Now legislation recently introduced in the state House takes the next step in modernizing the regulatory structure to give consumers even more options when choosing phone, broadband and video services, at more competitive pricing.

At the same time, the legislation helps preserve Pennsylvania's local phone company network, including the safety net services it provides for the state's most vulnerable consumers. State Rep. Warren Kampf, R-Chester, introduced the bill on July 1 and 60 House members from both sides of the aisle quickly signed on. The legislation maintains, for a limited time, the Universal Service Fund that guarantees affordable basic dial tone service, especially for low income consumers and those in our most rural areas - consumers not included in the marketing strategies of many wireless, cable and other phone and broadband providers.

Under the law, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will maintain authority over all vital services including 911 and Lifeline services for low income residents. The bill also preserves the provisions in a 2004 state law that removed some regulatory obstacles and led to universal broadband deployment by our member companies. Under the law, the smaller rural companies faced a 2008 deployment deadline while the mid-size carriers, with larger service territories, have until the end of this calendar year to complete deployment. In addition, the legislation eases more of the regulatory burden for our members so they can better compete with cable, wireless and other providers who enjoy a more favorable regulatory environment. Cable and wireless providers sell products and services where it suits their profit margins at prices that make economic sense.

The current regulatory scheme resembles one that would allow some airlines to serve the most profitable routes, while relegating the costlier ones to others. Not every town of course needs airline service but everyone needs basic phone service, and increasingly, broadband service. The lopsided business setting is more than gist for debate in Harrisburg. It's a flawed business model for offering consumers all the options they deserve. If, for instance, a customer of a cable company approaches an incumbent carrier for a price and service comparison - it happens frequently - our members must seek approval from the PUC if a price adjustment is needed. No law requires the cable company to endure the time and expense required for a review by the PUC.

The 2004 law has helped drive competition, resulting in more consumer options, lower pricing and innovative products. But in the ten years since its passage, the regulatory scheme has become outdated given advances in technology. It's time to even the rules for everyone in the telecommunications industry. The members of the Pennsylvania Telephone Association are the incumbent carriers your parents and grandparents relied on and you can still rely on to offer the latest in telecommunications services. Even in the age of wireless and cable, the network owned and maintained by our members still stands as the backbone of reliability for phone and broadband in Pennsylvania. The current legislation will help ensure it stays that way. - Op-ed from Steve Samara, President of the Pennsylvania telephone Association in Harrisburg Patriot-News

Viacom Inc. said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit jumped 24% as the media company benefited from growth in advertising and home-entertainment revenue. Viacom reported a profit of $804 million, or $1.68 a share, up from $650 million, or $1.26 a share, a year earlier. Excluding restructuring costs, gains on investment sales and other items, per-share earnings from continuing operations rose to $1.55 from $1.21. Revenue increased 8.6% to $3.65 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected per-share earnings of $1.44 on revenue of $3.6 billion.

The company's media-networks division, its biggest segment by revenue, reported 7% higher revenue to $2.46 billion, reflecting substantial growth in domestic advertising revenue and affiliate fees. This division includes MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, among other cable networks. Domestic and world-wide advertising revenue each increased 10%. Domestic and world-wide affiliate revenue each increased 6%, driven primarily by rate increases. Filmed-entertainment revenue rose 11% to $1.21 billion, because of growth in home-entertainment, ancillary and theatrical revenue. Theatrical revenue increased 31% because of stronger carry-over revenue, primarily driven by the release of the zombie movie "World War Z" in the prior quarter. Home-entertainment revenue rose 24%, thanks in part to strong performance of the "Star Trek" and "GI Joe" franchises. Wall Street Journal