Municipal governments discovered that they could extract substantial rents by awarding licenses on favorable terms to the applicant. In the 1960s, New York Mayor John Lindsay proclaimed cable franchises “urban oil wells beneath our city streets.” This produced a decided bias in favor of monopoly, which would improve expected returns and so raise the “bid” from prospective applicants.
-- Thomas Hazlett
Cable Television , in Handbook of Telecommunications Economics: Technology Evolution and the Internet, Vol. 2, (Sumit K. Majumdar et al. eds., Elsevier Science 2006).