For years, the telcos pushed for cable franchise reform
, which was sorely needed to some extent. Basically, for decades, various local municipalities would offer a "franchise" for cable TV providers, so that residents really only had a single choice. When I was growing up, if you wanted pay TV you had one option and one option only. The reason for this did make some sense at the time. Laying infrastructure for cable was disruptive and expensive, and towns didn't want multiple providers to dig up everyone's lawn or whatever. On top of that, with a single franchise managed by local government, that local government could put conditions on the franchise that helped local residents (for example, here in Silicon Valley some franchises required super high speed broadband connections between schools, government building and a few other facilities). However, with it also came the downsides of a monopoly.
In pushing for franchise reform, one of the key arguments made was that adding competition would lower prices
-- which is not a ridiculous assumption at a high level. However, as Broadband Reports is now noting, that's not what's actually happening
. It points out how AT&T, which benefited massively from said franchise reform, has continually raised the prices on U-Verse, and there's also been a similar corresponding increase in prices of cable TV, contrary to the promises.
All that said, I'm not ready to claim that franchise reform was a mistake. I agree that the claims of telco supporters appears to have been bunk, but that's to be expected. The real problem was that with basic franchise reform, we didn't get significant competition, but limited competition from companies who are still using regulatory capture to enable higher prices.
I think the real turning point on pay TV prices (contrary to the claims of some
) won't come due to franchise reform, but as more people ditch pay TV altogether
and cut that cord to go internet-only.