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L.A. Mayor Leads Lobby Against Open Access

The Digital Coast Roundtable has begun lobbying members of the Los Angeles City Council not to force cable to open their networks to competitors.

Digital Coast Inc. is a group that represents influential new media companies in Los Angeles. The Digital Coast Roundtable is chaired by Los Angeles' Mayor Richard Riordan, a staunch proponent of closed access to cable networks.

Under the auspices of the non-profit organization, the group was formed to develop public and private partnerships with the new media industry in Los Angeles. The group wants to promote the City of Angels as the digital epicenter of the Internet media industry.

For many of the companies represented by the Roundtable, widespread deployment of broadband Internet technologies is crucial to their businesses. Digital Coast Roundtable members include Paramount Digital Entertainment, the Disney Channel, USA Networks Interactive, NBC.com, KPMG, Dreamworks Interactive, Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW), eToys (ETYS) and several members of the Los Angeles City Council.

The group contends local governments in Portland, Ore., and elsewhere which have voted to open their cable networks will deter the deployment of broadband access nationwide.

The Los Angeles council is expected to decide the issue of open access to cable networks in the next few months.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the group sent a position paper to the Los Angeles City Council saying the best thing for the region's fledgling Internet companies is quick deployment of broadband technologies. The group further purports that broadband deployment is best served in the absence of government regulation.

The Digital Coast membership believes that cable companies face competition from phone companies and wireless operators that can deploy Digital Subscriber Line and other broadband services to Southern California.

The Digital Coast Roundtable has a significant interest in the roll out of universal access to broadband services and the group does not maintain a vested interest in who can provide the best broadband services, just that the services be deployed quickly.