FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07/18/2005
House Rejects Anti-Discrimination Amendment in Debate over Cable Service Deployment
AUSTIN - During floor debate of Senate Bill 21, a bill promising greater competition and lower prices for cable television service, House members defeated an amendment by Representative Yvonne Davis (Dallas). Davis' amendment deleted a loophole allowing cable service providers from "cherry-picking" for the more affluent customers in Texas cities.
"The House just turned a blind eye to the plain language of S.B. 21. As written, the bill clearly allows cable service providers to look at a city, weed out the unwanted parts of the customer base, and only service the wealthy sectors," Davis explained.
S.B. 21 permits cable service providers to enter into service agreements in which the cable company defines the service area. Service areas could simply be drawn to exclude neighborhoods with lower household incomes, a practice commonly referred to as "redlining".
"In cities all over Texas, working-class neighborhoods cannot access basic DSL internet service because the phone company prefers not to service those communities. Now, we give free rein to those same companies so that they can continue to discriminate based on geographic location when it comes to cable service," Davis added.
Davis expressed serious concern about representatives from rural and minority urban district voting against her amendment.
"S.B. 21 establishes a policy of denying consumer choice in a free market if they do not live in the right zip code. I cannot understand how representatives with low-income, minority, or rural constituents voted against an amendment that delivers the benefits of competition to all consumers, not a select and wealthy few."