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Can You See Verizon Ads Now? No

3/15/2006 8:34 AM Eastern

New Jersey cable operators are attempting to stifle free speech by refusing to run TV ads promoting video choice and competition, according to Verizon Communications Inc.

The telco -- which is promoting a franchising-reform bill that will allow statewide franchising on an expedited schedule -- complained Wednesday that Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp. have refused to sell it advertising time.

A third operator, Cablevision Systems Corp., didn't even respond to an e-mail inquiry on ad sales, the telco added.

The cable companies are using their systems to promote only one side of the issue, according to Dennis Bone, Verizon New Jersey president. The 30-second spots Verizon sought to place state that cable prices have increased four times as much as the Consumer Price Index since 2001.

Operators scoffed at the complaint, asserting that the ads are purposely misleading.

"A $90 billion phone monopoly complaining about high rates and not being able to get its message out is laughable. Is there anyone in New Jersey who hasn't seen hundreds of Verizon ads?" Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella said.

Comcast, the state's other largest operator, issued a statement explaining its policy to reject ads containing unsubstantiated, false and misleading claims.

This policy is consistent with long-standing and generally accepted industry practices, spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury added. Comcast has accepted other Verizon ads, she noted, including spots for Verizon's competitive video service, FiOS TV.

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