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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Audit: Charges for Cable TV service

Audits


Following the enactment of a new state law aimed at providing uniform regulation of cable video service, the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) conducted a small-scale analysis to determine the effect, if any the new law had on rates and level of service. The law, 2007 Wisconsin Act 42 took effect during January 2008.

Under the law, a state-level franchising process for cable television providers was established. The law includes both cable and certain telecommunications companies. Prior to the new law, cable television providers negotiated franchise agreements with municipalities and paid them franchise fees. Providers apply to the Department of
Financial Institutions (DFI) for a single state-level franchise under the new law. Similar laws are in place in 27 other states.

The LAB looked at the monthly charges for basic and expanded basic service for 10 providers in 17 Wisconsin during July 2007 and July 2009. Data was supplied to the LAB by the providers, including Milwaukee.

Over that two-year period, the LAB reports, “Charges for basic service increased an average of 21.2 percent, and charges for expanded basic service increased an average of 11.5 percent. The reported data do not suggest that competition has had a substantial effect in reducing either basic or expanded basic video service charges or in slowing their rates of growth during the period we reviewed.”

From the LAB report:

Charges for Basic Service

Milwaukee

AT & T
Basic service was not offered during July 2007

During July 2009, AT & T had a monthly charge of $19.00 and 23 channels.

Time Warner Entertainment Company, LP

July 2007 data

Monthly Charge - $13.50

Number of Channels- 29

July 2009 data

Monthly Charge- $15.73

Number of Channels- 29


Charges for Expanded Basic Service

Milwaukee

AT & T

July 2007 data

Monthly Charge - $44.00

Number of Channels- 50

July 2009 data

Monthly Charge- $ 49.00

Number of Channels- 70


Time Warner Entertainment Company, LP

July 2007 data

Monthly Charge - $48.15

Number of Channels- 78

July 2009 data

Monthly Charge- $55.99

Number of Channels- 78


The LAB warns that its findings must be regarded with caution due to the “variations in the number and types of channels that different providers offer as basic and expanded basic service, as well as variations in individual providers’ charges for the same services because of promotional rates and the increasingly common practice of ‘bundling’ video, Internet, and telephone services and charging less than their standard rate for each bundled component.”

Most importantly, little time has occurred since the new law took effect. The LAB says it is difficult to determine if the rate trends it discovered will continue.

You can read the LAB report here.

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