Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/25/07

Competitive cable bill drawing some fire
by Erin Edgemon
Murfreesboro Post (TN)

—> The city of Murfreesboro and other municipalities, however, are against the “Competitive Cable and Video Services Act” that would allow cable providers to obtain a statewide franchise rather than petitioning cities one by one.

Alan Bozeman, Murfreesboro’s cable television coordinator, said the proposed legislation is bad for customers because it eliminates local enforcement of customer service standards, could result in “cherry picking” of cable and video customers and reduce franchise fees paid to the city. Customers won’t necessarily see lower cable bills either, he said.

Murfreesboro City Council approved two resolutions in early March that stated the city’s opposition to the new legislation and expressed the city’s interest in negotiating with AT&T for a cable franchise. Rutherford County is expected to draft similar resolutions.

Bill would have drastic effects on cable business
Rural and poor could be losers if companies are allowed to ‘cherry-pick’ who they will serve.
by Jim DeBrosse
Springfield News-Sun (OH)

COLUMBUS — Consumer groups call it “cherry-picking” or “redlining” — allowing cable and phone companies to target affluent, densely populated areas for the latest in computer and video services while ignoring minorities, the poor and rural areas. It has been a concern in nearly every video franchising bill introduced in states around the country over the last two years. And Ohio Senate Bill 117, introduced last week by Sen. Jeff Jacobson, R-Vandalia, is no exception, said Ed Mierzwinski of the Ohio Public Research Interest Group.
“The system in Ohio’s bill is rigged and stacked in favor of the player — in this case, AT&T,” he said. “This is AT&T’s dream legislation. —>

Steve Husemann, executive director of the Miami Valley Communications Council, said his agency relies on 80 percent of the cable franchise fees from eight cities in southern Montgomery County to operate its four community access channels. “There’s no question (the bill) will have a major impact on our revenues,” he said. MVCC’s current franchise with Time Warner requires the cable firm to supply and replace certain equipment as well as providing an institutional network for local governments and schools, Husemann said. The state bill does not include those provisions. —>

AT&T advocating statewide permits for utility growth
Backers say bill will lower cable costs, but consumer groups say it benefits suburbs and ignores urban poor and rural areas.
by Jim DeBrosse
Dayton Daily News (OH)

—> But consumer groups and local governments are aghast at the bill. “We strongly support competition in all marketplaces, but this is pseudo-competition,” said Ed Mierzwinski of the Ohio Public Research Interest Group. Consumer groups say the measure would allow AT&T to “cherry-pick” affluent suburbs for their services while ignoring the poor in urban areas and the underserved in rural areas.

And local governments say the bill would weaken their control over rights of way and customer service and reduce their franchise fees for operating community access channels. “It really does a number of horrible things both to consumers and local communities,” said Joel Kelsey, grassroots coordinator of Consumers Union, the nonprofit group that publishes Consumer Reports. —>

Powers jostle over Verizon TV service
by David Robinson
The Buffalo News (NY)

—> To prevent cherry picking, the more sweeping legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Westchester, would require companies receiving a statewide franchise to provide service to 85 percent of the state within six years. That’s a big reason why Verizon opposes the Brodsky bill, too. “It requires new entrants to build service in areas where it’s not economically feasible,” Wilner says. Rather than speed up competition, the coverage mandate would actually slow it down, she says. —>

FCC Asked To Keep Hands Off IP Video
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable

Internet TV company Network2 has asked the FCC to declare the commission has no authority to regulate video over the Internet. According to a copy of the petition supplied to B&C the company, led by VOIP pioneer Jeff Pulver, has asked the FCC to declare that its IP-based Internet video service is not a cable or broadcast service subject to FCC regulation. —>
Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, says such a ruling would be premature. “Multiplaform access rules will be needed for political speech on mobile and IPTV platforms,” he says. “Rules protecting news and public affairs and advertising safeguards will be needed, including protecting children,” he said.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, community media, FCC, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, video franchising

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