AT&T Inc. yesterday accused cable television companies of suppressing public debate by refusing to air ads that urge lawmakers to make it easier for phone companies to get into the TV business.
Time Warner Cable shot back that it was under no obligation to carry its competitors’ ads while Comcast Corp. said it rejected the spots because they were riddled with false and misleading claims.
The charges are the latest in a long series of broadsides between phone companies, which want to offer TV without having to get thousands of franchise agreements at localities all over the country, and cable companies, which believe their rivals should have to secure local agreements just as they did.
Both sides have launched media campaigns to sway lawmakers debating whether to grant phone companies state or national franchises. The Federal Communications Commission is also studying whether local authorities are “unreasonably” denying franchises.