Kohl, DeWine: Study cable competition


Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) want to know whether cable
overbuilders have an effect on keeping prices down and customer service up in
markets where they are competitive with traditional cable.

"The [cable-television] marketplace has experienced increased consolidation
in recent years, with the pending merger of Comcast [Corp.] and AT&T Broadband being
but the most recent example," Kohl and DeWine wrote in a letter to David Walker,
comptroller general of the General Accounting Office. "Moreover, cable-television rates continue to rise at about triple the rate of inflation since
1996. We are concerned about the competitive implications of this continued
consolidation in the . marketplace."

The two senators are chairman and ranking member of the Senate Antitrust
Subcommittee, respectively.

Kohl and DeWine want the GAO to look at the "effect of the presence of cable
overbuilders on cable rates and quality of service offerings," the "effect of
the presence of overbuilders on Internet broadband services" and the "effect of
their presence on local telephone competition."