This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
TV4US describes itself as a coalition "advocating on behalf of American customers who deserve new choices, better service and lower costs in their television service."  The public interest group Common Cause called TV4US "the very definition of Astroturf: an industry-backed campaign that gives the appearance of widespread grassroots support." 
TV4US "is co-chaired by President Clinton's former Deputy Chief of Staff Steve Ricchetti and Republican strategist Charlie Black," according to Common Cause. In 2001 and 2002, "they led the AT&T-backed Voices for Choices organization in opposition to the proposed Tauzin-Dingell telecom bill." 
- Main article: Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act
Lobbying and Public Relations
"Fleishman-Hillard is repping the TV4US coalition, which wants to streamline cable TV regulation to allow easier market entry for telecoms," reported Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter in June 2006. "Kelly [sic] Gannon, who joined F-H from the National Assn. of Chain Drug Stores, serves as TV4US spokesperson. The coalition is running a series of ads, but Gannon said she could not discuss ad buys with O’Dwyer’s." 
"Gannon is coordinating her activities with Charlie Black, chairman of Burson-Marsteller’s BKSH & Assocs. lobbying wing and former Republican National Committee spokesperson, and Steve Ricchetti, President Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff," added O'Dwyer's. 
Thad Nation is identified in news reports and in press releases as the executive director of "TV4US Wisconsin," which is based in Milwaukee.    He is also the "owner of the public strategies firm, Nation Consulting," and is described on the firm's website as "a seasoned public relations professional, having run the communications efforts of two Governors in different states, operated as a press secretary for both state and national parties, and worked in a variety of state agencies." 
In May 2007, TV4US Wisconsin gave "all 132 state lawmakers ... a thick binder full of the names of constituents" who it says "are demanding an end to the cable monopoly and want choices in the video market." The state bill that TV4US is supporting "would eliminate most local regulation of cable TV franchises in favor of minimal supervision by state agencies," reported Madison's Capital Times newspaper. AT&T also hired 16 lobbyists in Wisconsin, including the state Democratic Party chair, Joe Wineke, to lobby for the state "Video Competition Bill."  The bill's lead sponsors are State Representative Phil Montgomery of Ashwaubenon and State Senator Jeff Plale of South Milwaukee. 
However, the list of bill supporters in the TV4US binders included two lawmakers who voted against the bill in the state Assembly. "Apparently I couldn't convince myself," joked state Rep. Joe Parisi. The other legislator, state Rep. Sondy Pope Roberts, "said she made the discovery after a constituent called to say her husband's name was also erroneously included. ... Pope Roberts said she is now skeptical of the entire binder." Parisi questions the "piles of letters that all look alike that are generated by a large lobby group spending thousands and thousands of dollars." TV4US Wisconsin's Thad Nation couldn't explain why Pope Roberts was listed, but said Parisi's name might have been included because he signed up for email updates on the group's website. 
From their website: 
- AC Data Systems Inc.
- Actiontec Electronics Inc.
- The America Channel
- Asian Business Association
- Asian Women In Business
- BTECH Inc.
- Center for Individual Freedom
- Charles Industries
- Condux International
- Construction Industry Roundtable
- Frontiers of Freedom
- Hammerhead Systems Inc.
- Independent Technologies Inc.
- Japanese American Citizens League
- Leapstone Systems Inc.
- MRV Communications, Inc.
- National Black Chamber of Commerce
- National Association of Manufacturers
- National Association of Neighborhoods
- National Taxpayers Union
- Northstar Communications Group Inc.
- NSG America
- Optical Entertainment Network
- Prysmian Communications Cables and Systems USA
- Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
- SNC Manufacturing Co. Inc.
- The Citizenship Foundation
- The Latino Coalition
- White Rock Networks Inc.
- Women Presidents' Organization
PO Box 100246
Arlington, VA 22210-3246
Email: info AT wewantchoice.com
- Astroturf Groups: TV4US profile, Common Cause (accessed March 28, 2007).
- Art Brodsky, "What Does $400,000 (plus) Buy the Bells?" Talking Points Memo blog, May 16, 2006.
- Blogger Jank0, "AT&T & Co. rally consumers against net neutrality," P2P Blog, May 23, 2006. Reposted on SaveTheInternet.com.
- Heather Greenfield, "As Telecom Bill Debate Heats Up, Firms Spending Big On Advertising," National Journal Technology Daily, May 26, 2006.
- "Astroturfs in Bloom," saveaccess.org, June 21, 2006.
- "Reality Check: Who's Behind TV Ads About Cable Prices: Group Called 'Puppet Of AT&T'," Channel 3000 WISC-TV (Madison, WI), July 11, 2006.
- Barry Orton, Op/ed: "Internet speed must not be based on ability to pay," Milwaukee Journal-Senintel, July 22, 2006.
- Mark Fleischmann, "Telcos Try Viral Lobbying," Digital Trends, July 27, 2006.
- Thomas Content, "Cable TV fires back with ads: Telecoms seeking 'special rules,' companies say," Milwaukee Journal-Senintel, August 24, 2006.
- Anna Marie Kukec, "'Astroturf' Groups Represent Industries in Push for Illinois Cable Franchising," Daily Herald, February 11, 2007.
- "You had to expect it: Video franchise bill hits TV," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Georgia), February 18, 2007.
- Rebecca Catalanello, "Consumer groups or covert lobbyists? Groups with names that may mislead flock to telecom debate," St. Petersburg Times (Florida), March 5, 2007.
- Jeff Richgels, "Statewide cable report rapped," The Capital Times (Madison, WI), March 22, 2007.
- "Assembly committee passes video service bill," The Business Journal of Milwaukee, April 17, 2007.
- Bruce Kushnick, Press gives a free pass to citizens groups allied with telecoms, Nieman Watchdog, May 7, 2007.
- David Callender, "AT&T claims wide support for cable bill," The Capital Times (Madison, Wisc.), May 8, 2007.
- Judith Davidoff, "2 pols who opposed cable bill say their names were misused," The Capital Times (Madison, Wis.), May 17, 2007.
- Mark Pitsch, "Cable bill foes irked at being listed as backers," The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), July 4, 2007.