HED:Want Action? Call, Write, Complain
By Lena Mitchell
As the 1993 cable rate freeze shows, consumer feedback carries a lot of weight and can have significant impact.
The Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America represent more than 50 million consumers through 240 organizations. Their goal is to mobilize individuals to let their congressional representatives know how they feel about how the cable bill is affecting them.
Although the 1996 Telecommunications Act has already been signed into law, the Federal Communications Commission has authority to write the regulations that govern how the law is implemented.
Four new commissioners, including the commission chairman, are expected to be sworn into office soon.
Bill Kennard, who is expected to win Senate confirmation as chairman, has promised to bring competition to the cable marketplace, thereby lowering rates, as quickly as possible.
"I believe that the FCC should be vigilant in monitoring changes in cable and should adjust its regulations as nedessary to protect consumers," Kennard told the Senate Commerce Committee during confirmation hearings.
Nathan Juller, a Huntsville, Ala., consultant in advanced technology marketing and education, says consumers should not just accept services the way the telecommunications industry has mapped them out.
"We don't have to accept any vision forced on us by the telecommunications industry," Muller says. "We can shape that vision ourselves."
Muller advises consumers to stay informed about matters that affect your pocketbook. Attend scheduled public hearings. Write letters to public officials who have a voice in policymaking. Offer suggestions as to what should be done. And support advocacy groups that represent your point of view.
There is a high cost of inaction because consumers have a lot to lose by remaining silent and allowing others to make all the decisions.
- Consumer Federation of America, 1424 16th St., N.W., Suite 604, Washgton, D.C. 20036. Phone: 202-387-6121
- Consumers Union of the U.S., Inc., 101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, N.Y. 10703-1057. Phone: 914-378-2000
- Federal Communications Commission, Cable Services Bureau, 2033 M St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20554. Phone: 202-418-7200
- Sen. Thad Cochran, 326 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 202-224-5054
- Sen. Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 202-224-6253
- Rep. Roger Wicker, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515, 202-225-4306