The Wisconsin Alliance of Cities' Rich Eggleston reports:'
WISC-TV's Reality Check labelled as misleading claims of potential consumer savings being made by opponents of local governments' video franchising authority, which the television station said were extrapolated nationwide from a single study of one-time savings in a small Texas community.
The video version of newspaper ads that have run around the state said, "One thing (cable rates) is certain to come down, by up to 25 percent. That's up to $23 billion in savings nationwide."
Not very truthful, said UW-Madison professor Barry Orton, especially considering the promises AT&T is making to investors. "They're saying that publicly in the ads but if you read what their president is saying, they're going to price their service about the same," Orton told reporter Colin Benedict.
"AT&T's Chairman Edward Whitacre told Wall Street investors last month his company probably won't price below cable competitors," Benedict reported. "'I don't think there's going to be a price war,' said Whitacre in early June. 'I think it's going to be a war of value and of services.'"
The ads are run by TV4Us, a coalition of AT&T and a bunch of below-the-radar groups including the Center for Individual Freedom, which the PR Watch website says "receives corporate funding, but doesn't say from whom." On the Reality Check, Orton called TV4Us a puppet of AT&T.
"Here's a phony ad," Orton said. "Here's a group that is a puppet of AT&T."
Let's see, turning customer data over to the feds; helping to orchestrate a misleading advertising campaign to dupe customers into giving up local cable control; and working to be allowed to control Internet access through price structure. Not really up to cigarette company sleazy behavior standards, but not bad. Still nowhere near Enron levels. Keep trying, though, AT&T. We have faith.