Verizon Will Prevail In TV Regulation, CEO Says|
CHICAGO -- After having spent billions building wireless networks, digging trenches and stringing optical fiber, Verizon Communications isn't about to let competitors or regulators keep it from bringing you your MTV.
In both his keynote speech here at the Supercomm show Tuesday morning and in a question-and-answer period later, Verizon CEO Ivan Siedenberg said that the company will prevail, eventually overcoming both the television franchising concerns and competitors' rhetoric that might now seem like big roadblocks in Verizon's path to becoming a widescale provider of video and television content and services over its IP-based wireless, wireline and fiber-based links.
While Verizon and SBC recently lost an early battle over television regulation in Texas, Seidenberg said Tuesday that he is confident that the weight of public opinion -- as well as perhaps some heavily lobbied members of Congress -- will eventually produce regulations more friendly to new entrants in the television markets.
"I think the market will [help] decide the issue," Seidenberg said. When Verizon offers its TV services, "if the customers like what we do, then public policy will probably line up behind it, over time," he added.
While cable competitors have been gaining some headlines by accusing Verizon and other potential telco competitors of "redlining," loosely defined as plans to ignore lower-revenue customers in favor of folks with money to burn on broadband, Seidenberg called that a "bogus" argument.
"They've used it [redlining] as a political tool," Seidenberg said of his cable competitors. "But we don't do that." Seidenberg also said Verizon isn't against the idea of paying some local fees, but didn't think the company should be held to the same rules of market entry that cable companies faced when they established their monopoly services.
"It's our goal to hit the market with a video product sometime this year," Seidenberg said. "And I think we should be able to get [franchising] licenses with some reasonable rules."
However, Seidenberg didn't blame cable companies for trying to tilt the playing field in their own favor.
"It's common sense that cable sees us as an insurgent," Seidenberg said. "Whether it's right or wrong, it's in their interest to slow us down. It's not unexpected."
Seidenberg said that while Verizon is currently negotiating franchising agreements for content distribution with a wide range of local entities, the company might eventually look to Congress to provide a national standard for regulation should Verizon's efforts to win approvals at the state and local level prove unsuccessful.
"If it doesn't work [at the state level], we're open to a national solution," Seidenberg said. "We feel like we've taken the debate to another level. And anytime it's been put to a vote, we've won."
Seidenberg also reminded his listeners that the company does have the werewithal (as in billions of dollars of yearly revenues) to fight any battles for the foreseeable future.
"We'll be here for a while," Seidenberg said.
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