Cable television mogul Ted Turner defends the right of cable operators to charge as much as they want, but a senator who wants to reregulate the industry described the practice as "un-American."

Turner told the Senate Commerce Committee he opposed a bill that would allow the regulation of cable rates for the first time since 1984."We strongly recommend against regulation legislation because we believe consumers will lose more from diminished program quality than they can possibly gain in reduced prices," said Turner.

But Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., said, "There is something un-American about unregulated monopolies. Either you're going to have competition or regulation."

Turner defended the right of cable operators to increase prices at will - even without competition.

The Bush administration, which supports Turner's position, sent no representative to testify.

Danforth's bill would let local authorities regulate basic cable rates, require cable to carry local channels and place more controls over big cable operators.