Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/27/07

City of Naperville Testifies Against Illinois House Bill 1500
House Telecommunications Committee Agrees to Amend Bill
Business Wire (IL)

The City of Naperville continued its opposition to Illinois House Bill 1500, the Cable and Video Competition Law of 2007, through testimony before the House Telecommunications Committee on March 22. As a result, the Committee Chairman declared that HB 1500 will be amended.   —>

According to testimony by Terry Miller, senior assistant city attorney, City of Naperville, “despite attempts to frame it otherwise, HB 1500 constitutes nothing more than a blatant attempt by telecoms to exempt themselves from existing Illinois regulations.” Miller continued his testimony by asserting “HB 1500 failed to conserve the finite resources of the public right of way, failed to protect the public against poor right of way construction, failed to enforce antidiscrimination provisions, encouraged redlining, encouraged data mining of private internet surfing habits, personal television viewing habits, and promoted the violation of private VoIP telephone conversations.”

Following Miller’s testimony, the Committee requested a transcript and notes. Subsequent to the hearing, HB 1500 was referred to the Rules Committee for further consideration. No further hearings on HB 1500 have been determined at this point, however the city is encouraged by the Chairman’s desire to amend the Bill and hope further discussions will prove that HB 1500 is unnecessary.

Florida Takes Another Crack At Statewide Video-Franchising
by Michael Martinez
National Journal’s Telecomm Act

Statewide video-franchising legislation in Florida may be headed back to the place it died last year…

Gov. Charlie Crist told the St. Petersburg Times last week that the intense lobbying efforts of the state’s phone companies have made him skeptical that stripping the franchising authority of localities is in the best interest of consumers.  “When you hire that many people to advocate a cause, it has to make you wonder,” he said.

Video competition bill draws mixed testimony
by Andrew Beckett
WRN News (WI)

—>   Meanwhile, operators of Public Education and Government channels say the legislation could force many stations off the air. Pam Steitz directs the public access channel in Sun Prairie. She says eliminating local franchise agreements could seriously threaten the funding those stations rely on. Steitz says the programming requirements could also allow providers to drop public access channels if they don’t meet thresholds for locally produced content.

Senate and Assembly versions of the proposal are still awaiting action in committee. The Assembly Speaker has said he is willing to take up the bill on the floor of that chamber. However, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson (D-Beloit) says there are concerns she wants addressed before they’ll take any action on the proposal.

Janesville concerned about video competition bill
1230 am WCLO (WI)

Janesville City Council member Paul Williams is traveling to the capital Tuesday for a public hearing on a “video competition” bill. Williams sits on the Public Access Cable Television Committee and is concerned the legislation could reflect loss of local control in negotiating a franchise agreement with the cable provider. The city could also lose $200,000 in local franchise fees.

47 lobbyists work cable-franchise bill
by Steven Walters
All Politics Watch (WI)

Madison – The first full-employment bill for lobbyists to emerge in new legislative session is AB 207, which would repeal current law that allows local governments to grant cable franchises to cable operators.  Instead, the bill would let cable operators register directly with the state Department of Financial Institutions, which would have to issue them permits within a specified period of time. The cable operators could not be charged more than 5% by the local government , which is less than many local governments now charge.  The fight has attracted groups with 47 registered lobbyists, according to the state Ethics Board. They range from the 15 power brokers hired by AT&T to the one lobbyist each for four groups, including the Citizens Utility Board and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.   —>

Martin: Board members take stand against state bill
The Weakley County Press (TN)

Martin Mayor Randy Brundige requested the board of aldermen to “take a stand” against an upcoming state legislative bill during their formal meeting last Monday evening.  “Some of you may have already heard of the upcoming AT&T Cable Franchise Bill that is set for a vote in the legislation. This bill is bad for consumers,” Brundige said. He explained certain provisions of the bill would have city hall taking phone calls and complaints concerning customers’ cable services, but city hall would be unable to take action regarding a customer’s service. There are other stipulations of the franchise bill that would ultimately allow some people to have cable through AT&T and others would be unable to receive service, if the bill is passed. The cable service provider would not be required to go before the planning committee for service installations.

“I am asking this board to take a stand and say that we are against this bill. Jackson has recently done this and now I am asking you to do this. Be ready for it and keep your legislators’ ears warm about this bill because it is not good for the citizens,” Brundige added.  Board members were all in favor of stating they were not for the bill and voted to “take a stand” against it last Monday evening.

Selectmen support increase for community access TV
by Bon Martin
The Citizen of Laconia (NH)

PLYMOUTH – Selectmen have unanimously approved increasing the fee paid for Pemi-Baker Community Access Media, or pbCAM.  “What Channel 3 has done has been remarkable for the community,” said Selectman Patrice Scott. “It’s a very reasonable cost. I support raising it….   The fee is assessed to the cable provider and has no impact on the town’s property tax.

In September 2003, Plymouth selectmen voted to implement a 2 percent franchise fee to fund cable access programming in the Pemi-Baker area. The fee provided funding for a part-time executive director, a position held by Jamie Cadorette since 2004.  Since then, viewership has increased, resulting in the addition of another channel. Now pbCAM can be found on channels 3 and 20 through Time-Warner Cable Television in the towns of Plymouth, Holderness, Ashland, Campton, Thornton, Rumney, Wentworth, Warren, Dorchester and Groton.   —>

County raising cable fee
by Mark Schlinkmann
ST. Louis Post Dispatch (MO)

ST. CHARLES COUNTY — Cable television users in the county’s unincorporated areas will see a slight increase in their bills following action taken Monday night by the County Council.  A new franchise agreement with Charter Communications, approved unanimously, calls for a 5 percent county fee to be added to customers’ cable TV bills, compared to the current 3 percent fee.  That would amount to about a dollar a month extra for a typical subscriber who buys only TV service.

Under the agreement, Charter also must assign a new channel for county government programs by Sept. 1, similar to what St. Charles, St. Peters and other cities already have. The new county channel will be available in both unincorporated areas and cities.  Shows produced by the county are now carried on a Lindenwood University channel. County Counselor Joann Leykam, whose office negotiated the agreement, said the county channel will allow time for more county programs on various subjects.  “I think there’s an advantage to all of us as citizens having access to what our government is doing,” Leykam said.   —>

New director to put “public” back in public-access TV
Denver Post

Tony Shawcross wants to bump up the “public” in public-access television.  “If it were up to us, everything would air,” says Shawcross, executive director and co-founder of Deproduction Group, chosen by the city in February to run channels 57, 58 and 59, where all comers are welcome.

Shawcross isn’t into dictating. To him, community access means community control. He has an open-door policy when it comes to choosing the stations’ 72 hours of daily programming. “Every show submitted is guaranteed to air at least once,” he promises. When and where it airs again is up to the stations’ 300,000 viewers on Comcast cable.  “At the core of our model is that viewers can vote,” eventually online, he says. “The public should make those decisions, not just another guy behind the curtain.”   —>

March 26 Council Meeting wrap-up
by Mike Halfacre
Mike Halfacre’s Blog (NJ)

We passed Ordinances limiting parking on Allen Street and McCarter Avenue; Amending our Borough Fee Schedule, and we introduced an Ordinance to renew the Comcast franchise for cable television.  The Comcast renewal comes with a $20,500.00 grant for technology, which will be used for upgrades to Borough Hall hardware and software. It also will provide a grant to the High School of more than $45,000.00 for technology, which is based upon both Rumson and Fair Haven renewing their franchises.

Board approves cable-access channel
by Riley Yates
The Intelligencer

Parents in the New Hope-Solebury School District could soon be able to flip on the television to learn the latest on school closings, testing dates, concerts, fundraisers or picture days.  The school board on Monday night approved establishing a cable-access channel that would be maintained by the district but could eventually also pull in the New Hope borough and Solebury township governments.  Channel 27 will serve as a community bulletin board, and will not have the studio, programming and live feeds that school districts such as Central Bucks can offer.   —>

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

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

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