The historical record, as I’ve also argued, is also quite unequivocal on the folly of allowing those who own the medium to control the message See: The Vertical Integration Elephant in the RoomFor differing points of view some might have a take on the process unfolding in our society today as a sign of the way things have always gone? Do you feel the same?
|A Thomas Nast cartoon shortly after the Supreme Court affirmed Alexander Graham Bell's patents (library of congress)|
At least seven major cities adopted measured service in the 1880s: Boston; San Francisco; Buffalo; Pittsburgh; Indianapolis; Washington, DC; and Rochester, New York. The policy had a pro-consumer aspect; it expanded the market of any local exchange carrier to people who didn't want to pay a big monthly service fee, thus extending the circle of individuals any rate payer could call.
But while measured service initially succeeded in San Francisco and Buffalo, it failed everywhere else throughout the decade. Consumers could not shake the suspicion that its real purpose was to get them to pay more money to the telephone company. And so they resorted to what we would call boycotts and they called "strikes" to make their dissatisfaction known.
"The term 'strike' has come to be associated primarily with a work stoppage," John notes, but "in the 1880s its meaning was broader. A corporation could be struck not only by workers, but also by consumers and even lawmakers."
As early as 1881, for example, Washington, DC's "Telephone Subscribers Protective Association" launched a boycott of its exchange when the company adopted measured billing. It wasn't very long affair, just twelve days. But 300 out of the city's 700 phone subscribers participated. That was all it took for the firm to surrender and bring back flat rates. See: Mad about metered billing? They were in 1886, too