Regulators Sell Out Public Interest

On Monday, March 31, 1997, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to approve the merger of Pacific Telesis and Southwestern Bell Company.

Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles, provided the following report:

"The Commissioners placed value of the merger at under $500 million, (well below the PUC's Administrative Law Judges' previous estimate at $1.18 billion.) Therefore, the portion to be returned to the public was placed at $247 million; $213 million of which will be returned to ratepayers on the telephone bill; $34 million will be placed into a Community Partnership Fund, to be administered by the new telecommunications corporation.

"It is our analysis that the PUC commissioners have violated their constitutional charge to serve the public . . . but in this laissez faire revolution . . . such sycophancy is no scandal."

In "Staking Out the Public Interest," the California Telecommunications Policy Forum prepared a detailed analysis of the merger.