OLD Media Moves

Reporter ignores existing taxes on telecom

August 29, 2006

CNN’s Allen Wastler recently reported a story that concluded that there needed to be more regulation on telecommunications communications, but he ignored the fact that there already exists high taxes due to regulation, noted Business & Media Institute’s Ken Shepherd.

Shepherd wrote, “Nowhere in his story did the CNN/Money.com editor mention the high cost government already imposes on phone customers with taxes and fees, or that the FCC voted recently to expand the reach of the ‘universal service fee’ to voice-over-Internet and cell phone customers.

Allen Wastler“Wastler said that ‘once upon a time’ the government required a ‘universal service fee’ of DSL providers to finance rural telephone service that phone companies were reluctant to provide, but that the government stopped requiring the charge for DSL subscribers. That’s misleading.

“According to the FCC Web site, ‘all telecommunications companies that provide interstate telecommunications service contribute to the Universal Service Fund.’ While the FCC ‘does not require companies to recover their Universal Service contributions from their customer,’ ‘Each company makes a business decision about whether and how to assess charges to recover its Universal Service costs.’

“So what’s the problem? Well, Wastler complained that in lieu of a ‘universal service fee,’ Verizon is charging customers like him $2.70 a month in a ‘supplier surcharge fee’ at a ’13-cent savings’ over the universal service fee that was previously imposed. Wastler also savaged BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) for levying a ‘regulatory recovery fee because they have to deal with so many regulations.’

“A frustrated Wastler then exploded: ‘They should deal with more as far as I’m thinking.’ ‘I got a brief glimpse of hope from down South,’ he added, noting that ‘a federal court in Atlanta’ ruled that states ‘can regulate telecoms for all those little extra charges and the fine print and stuff.'”

Read more here.

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