Trade Associations on Opposite Sides: Newspaper Association of America Supports the Proposed Telecommunications Infrastructure Act of 1993 and the National Newspaper Association Opposes It

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Newspaper Association of America supports the proposed Telecommunications Infrastructure Act of 1993 and the National Newspaper Association opposes it

The debate over the future of telecommunications policy continued recently on Capitol Hill as a Senate subcommittee held hearings on a bill to regulate the nation's information infrastructure.

The Telecommunications Infrastructure Act of 1993, S.1086, was introduced in early June by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.). The comprehensive legislation addresses a number of telecommunications issues, including the entry of regional Bell operating companies into information services (E&P, June 19, P. 15).

The Newspaper Association of America and the National Newspaper Association have come down on opposite sides of the proposal, with the NAA endorsing it and the NNA opposing it.

Representatives from both groups were among the 13 witnesses who testified July 14 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation's Subcommittee on Communication.

Uzal H. Martz Jr., president and publisher of the Republican in Pottsville, Pa., told the subcommittee that the NAA "is pleased that the bill includes safeguards to govern the provision of information services by the regional Bell operating companies."

Martz' testimony noted that "because the RBOCs retain monopoly control over essential local telephone lines and the ability and incentive to abuse this power, legislation imposing tough and effective safeguards on RBOC participation in electronic publishing is urgently needed to preserve diversity and promote competition in the information services marketplace.

"S.1086 provides a strong starting point by permitting the RBOCs to provide information services only through separate subsidiaries; mandating arm's-length dealings between the RBOC and its subsidiary; requiring the establishment of a cost allocation system to prevent cross-subsidization; and imposing certain other regulatory safeguards.

"NAA believes that these safeguards should be strengthened," Martz' testimony said.

He added that the NAA and the RBOCs have been negotiating for several months in an attempt to "reach agreement on a package of safeguards to help prevent anti-competitive abuses by the RBOCs when they enter information services. …


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