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CWA Buys TV Ads Slamming FiOS, Verizon

In their ongoing contract dispute with Verizon, the Communications Workers of America have bought broadcast and cable TV time to "slam" Verizon for not delivering on its promise to build out its FiOS high-speed fiber optic Internet and TV network in New York City.

It cites a June NYC audit that found Verizon had not "truly" built out to all households. Verizon disputed the finding, saying it provided a distorted view of its franchise agreement filled with :"irresponsible, inaccurate, and unsupported" claims.

The ads come in advance of a City Council meeting Wednesday (Oct.15) on the issue.

"Verizon should stop breaking promises to its employees and its customers,” said Bob Master, assistant to the president for CWA District One, in a statement. “Customers want FiOS and our members want a contract that maintains family-supporting jobs.  Verizon should stop stalling on both issues.”

CWA has accused Verizon of not investing in infrastructure. "In a letter to the FCC it admitted that it had only spent $200 million or $3.50 per customer over the last seven years to maintain its copper landline network," CWA said. It also pointed to Verizon's decision not to take hundreds of millions of Connect America Fund subsidies to build out broadband in unserved areas (Verizon did put in for $46.5 million in targeted funds).

Verizon sees it quite differently.

“The CWA needs to get its story straight," said Verizon spokesman Rich Young. "The fact is that Verizon continues to expand FiOS cable television services in New York City and wins new customers every day. As of today, it’s available to more than 2 million NYC households and that number is increasing daily. Despite their misguided statements, the truth is that Verizon has deployed fiber in every City neighborhood – and that’s unlike any other communications company serving the city. It’s time for the distorted and inaccurate innuendo to stop."

He said the campaign's "true goal" is to force the company hire more employees, "which will increase membership and revenues for the Union," calling it "the wrong approach."

He said that, "rather than attacking the company that offers excellent jobs to more than 37,000 CWA members," CWA would be better off working with it on "a new contract that’s fair to our employees, our customers and would help position the company for success in the future.”

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.