Charter: Political PSA Timing Was Coincidence

Charter Communications said the timing of a letter that went out to Tennessee legislators offering them free airtime for public service announcements (PSAs) only a day after a state House bill that would have expanded municipal broadband was defeated was not linked to that defeat.

Cable operators have been critical of municipal broadband expansions as opportunities to unfairly cross-subsidize their buildouts, to fund municipal overbuilds, or leave taxpayers holding the bag for failed buildouts.

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The timing of the PSA invites would clearly have been impolitic optics if it were a calculated move. Charters says it was not. "The timing was nothing more than a coincidence.”

Charter was responding to a story on about its opposition to the bill and the PSA effort. 

"Right now it would appear to those watching from the outside that big business won and big business is now reciprocating," Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, was quoted in the story as saying.

“The planning of these PSAs began well before the vote on the municipal broadband bill and the invitation was sent to all lawmakers within our footprint – including the bill’s sponsor -- regardless of their views on that bill," said Charter.

The bill was defeated only a couple of days before the state of Tennessee faced off with the FCC in federal court over the issue of municipal broadband buildouts. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.