Support the Kerry-Boxer amendment to S. 2686

Media 06.28.06

Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, with more than 190 member organizations, we are writing to urge you to support the Kerry-Boxer amendment to the Communications, Consumers’ Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 (S. 2686). This amendment will require video service providers to “build out” their systems to include low-income, minority, and rural households, as well as households with individuals with disabilities.

LCCR believes that access to communications is a fundamental right of every American and an essential element of a working democracy; and therefore we welcome video competition in our nation’s communities. While we are encouraged that Congress is now promoting new competitors in the video marketplace, Congress also needs to ensure that the benefits of such competition are extended to everyone.

Build out requirements help to fulfill this goal by preventing new entrants from bypassing parts of the community for any reason. History has shown that marketplace barriers to entry will continue to persist unless strong and clear rules are in place requiring build out, service and upgrades to all communities.

The Kerry-Boxer amendment sets reasonable requirements for new entrants to expand service as their market share increases. New entrants have no deployment requirements for the first three years of obtaining a franchise, after which providers that have captured 15 percent of the market must expand by 20 percent the households which they serve.

These requirements will help ensure that all communities, including poor, minority, and rural neighborhoods, and neighborhoods where individuals with disabilities reside, share in increased competition. They are important steps that will address a digital divide in our nation, where the “haves” enjoy the benefits of advanced communications technologies, while the “have nots” do not.

Please help bring the benefits of increased video competition to all communities by supporting the Kerry-Boxer amendment. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Zirkin at 202/263-2880 or Corrine Yu, Director of Special Projects, 202/466-5670, regarding this or any issue.