Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/29/07

Help Fight Public Help for Cable TV Companies
by Mike Brau
Blog for Iowa

As you may have read, the Iowa Senate recently passed SF 544 which would change how communities franchise cable TV providers.  Under the proposed law new entrants, specifically Qwest, would be given an opportunity to by-pass the municipal franchising process and receive a franchise from the state under preferential terms.  Many of the community benefits negotiated by municipalities on behalf of their citizens would likely be lost as the bill contains a provision that if a competitor gives notice they intend to seek a state franchise that the incumbent cable operator can cancel their existing franchise and receive a state-issued franchise.  The House Commerce Committee will likely be taking up the bill the week of April 1.  Now is the time to contact Commerce Committee members.  Below are a few talking points.   —>

SF 554 undercuts existing commitments to local community public, educational, and government channels by limiting financial support from Qwest and other new entrants.  Capital and operational fees would be required only through the remaining term of the incumbent cable operator’s franchise and likely be totally eliminated if the incumbent cable operator opts for a state-issued franchise.   —>

Bill would slash JATV funding
by Frank Schultz
Gazette Extra (WI)

A bill in the state Assembly would cut the revenue Janesville gets from its cable TV provider and threaten the existence of its public-access channels, opponents say.  The Video Competition Act apparently would make it easier for another TV provider to compete with Charter Communications. But the bill has so many downsides that it can’t even be amended to fix the problems, said Paul Williams, a Janesville City Council member.  Williams and Judi Kneece, who manages public-access JATV Channel 12 in Janesville, testified against the bill in an Assembly hearing Tuesday.   —>

A lawyer’s take on SB 117
by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Diary (OH)

Walter and Haverfield is a Cleveland law firm that acts as counsel for a number of municipalities on cable and telecom matters, including Cleveland City Council. Here’s what they’re telling their clients about Senate Bill 117, the AT&T bill to end community cable franchising.  “S.B. 117 poses a grave threat to municipal Home Rule authority, municipal fiscal health, and local community growth. Walter & Haverfield LLP is currently assisting in building a state-wide coalition to oppose S.B. 117, on behalf of our municipal and other local government clients.”

TML’s Bragg: AT&T limits itself and maligns cities
by Milt Capps
The Nashville Post (TN)

—>   Bragg also made clear his displeasure with certain verses in what he called AT&T’s “serenade” of Tennessee legislators. Bragg rejected AT&T’s argument that local governments are, as he put it, “maliciously” resisting changes in the franchising law — changes that AT&T argues would save Tennessee consumers at least $177 million per year in video-services charges that would drop dramatically — only, that is, if another wireline provider entered the market to compete with cable companies.

As rejoinder, Bragg stressed that local governments have zero legal authority over pricing of cable services. Bragg said AT&T’s allegations are merely a “red herring,” intended to shift the focus from provisions in the proposed legislation that would make it easier for providers to skip entirely or provide fewer services to neighborhoods or rural areas in which projected investment returns are deemed inadequate.   —>

Cooper, Matheny release results of annual constituency questionnaire
The Tullahoma News (TN)

State Sen. Jerry Cooper, D-Morrison, and Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, have released results of their 23rd annual Constituent Survey.   —>

2. Cable companies are required by federal law to obtain franchises in the cities and counties where they operate. Legislation has been proposed which would allow companies (i.e. AT&T) to bypass the local cable TV permitting process in favor of a one-stop franchising authority regulated by the state, making it easier to expand their services and improve competition. City and county governments, along with cable companies, oppose this proposal saying it would give the phone company an unfair advantage, take away local control and oversight, and cause a loss of revenue on the local government level. Which proposal would you support? a. KEEP PROCESS AS IS THROUGH LOCAL FRANCHISES 41% b. ALLOW ONE-STOP FRANCHISING THROUGH THE STATE 36% c. UNDECIDED 23%

CWA Union In Bed With Telecommunications CEO’s On Internet Neutrality
by Walter Ballin
Walter Ballin’s Blog – TPM Cafe

This is an article from In These Times. The Communications Workers Of America, CWA, seems to be in bed with the telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon, instead of fighting for the common good. It appears that they oppose legislation to keep the Internet neutral, in the false belief that letting the telecommunications moguls get what they want, will result in more jobs for their members. The CWA is like some of the unions in SF about 25-30 years ago, which wrongfully thought that building more highrises would result in the hiring of more unionized janitors, restaurant, store, and other workers. It certainly will not help the labor movement, if we can only read what the greedy capitalists want us to read. Here is the article and as you SCROLL DOWN below the article, you will see a letter that I wrote to the President of the CWA Larry Cohen.  –  Walter
Not Neutrality
Why are the Communications Workers of America opting out of the Save the Internet coalition?
By Brian Cook

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

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

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