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Cambridge Needs Cable Choice

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

We've said it before on this page, and we'll say it again and again... Free market competition is generally a good thing. As long as there are measures in place to check its excesses and negative side effects, it should be employed as the most efficient way of allocating goods and services in an economy.

It is for this reason that we strongly support the Cambridge City Council in its effort to bring cable television competition to Cambridge. At the current time, Continental Cablevision is the only cable company which services the city.

Taking the cable monopoly away from Continental would offer cable users greater choice in terms of cable television providers. It would also force Continental to better address customer concerns and to offer improved service at lower rates. The move would probably lead Continental to offer more generous packages or installation offers in order to stay competitive in the market.

Continental Cablevision has had its fair share of dissatisfied customers. Most complainants accuse Continental of offering inadequate customer service through its impersonal voice-mail system.

Although it is true that markets with high fixed costs and lower marginal costs (like the cable market) are natural targets for monopoly, the complaints that customers have had with Continental justify introducing competition into the Cambridge cable market.

City Councillors correctly believe that such a change would give residents "better access to their cable provider and most importantly improve cable television services in Cambridge."

Not all of the councillors are equally enthusiastic about the proposal, however. City Councillor Katherine Triantifillou expressed reservations about the idea, citing the problems that arose in the wake of national airline deregulation.

Opponents of the proposal, while they may be able to point to cases where deregulation failed, cannot present any analysis as to why it would fail in this particular case. We hope that reason will prevail over the irrational Cantabrigian suspicion of the free market in the end.

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