Fresh off praising Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general emeritus whose most recent actions include seeking economic sanctions against the state and cheering the defeat of state laws in appellate court, the editors of The News & Observer have apparently decided that, today, it is bad again if they can portray a politician as having “cheered a loss for North Carolina consumers” in court.

The “loss” was a win for the state and for a bill that protects consumers and competition. But the politician this time is a Republican.

Here is how the N&O editors describe the bill:

The law created standards for towns to follow if they wanted to establish broadband service in competition with the commercial enterprises such as Time-Warner. But the “standards” were designed mainly to make it virtually impossible for municipalities to offer broadband: They couldn’t price the service at less than it cost to provide it and couldn’t use funds from other sources to subsidize broadband operations.

The law was directed at limiting the spread of high-speed broadband systems like the one established by the city of Wilson. The Wilson system treats access to broadband as a utility and offers high-speed, wireless internet access for free throughout its downtown. The municipal service is cheaper and faster than cable competitors, yet covers its own cost.

A sharp reader (i.e., not the target audience) would wonder a few things. They would include:

  • Why are towns creating entities to compete with commercial enterprises?
  • Why is “standards” in scare quotes?
  • Why would it be a bad thing to have a standard of keeping towns who create entities to compete with commercial businesses from paying for those entities with the town’s other funding sources?
  • What other funding sources are you talking about, anyway?
  • If the city of Wilson’s service is “free,” “cheaper and faster,” how does it cover its costs?
  • You say the law was directed at systems “like the one established by the city of Wilson”; is the law directed at that system?
  • How did this law originate, anyway?

An intellectually curious reader who is less impressed with partisan tribal signaling than N&O editors could find more information about the issue from my comments to the Federal Communications Commission, republished here.