Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/07/07

Impact on Oshkosh Community Access Television (WI)

—>   AB 207/SB 107 damage or shortchange PEG channels like OCAT in six major areas:

1) The bills eliminate ALL PEG fee funding which allow PEG channels to replace outdated equipment and/or facilities

2) The bills will reduce the franchise fees paid by video service providers to municipalities (forcing an increase in property taxes OR a reduction in PEG operating budgets)

3) The bills would require municipalities to be responsible for getting PEG signals to video service providers head-ends (adding new fiber and T-1 monthly lease costs and equipment to PEG budgets)

4) The bills would allow video service providers to send PEG signals out to citizens in a substandard “web streamed” video quality

5) The bills would require unrealistic daily content requirements onto PEG channels that not even most major network affiliates could currently match (or allow the video providers to pull the PEG channels for other uses)

6) The bills would allow video service providers to abandon support for current institutional networks connecting school and municipal buildings.

Cable watchdog
by Phyllis Salowe-Kaye
The Trenton Times (NJ)

For many in New Jersey, the battle over state vs. municipal franchises to foster competition in the cable market ended with the governor’s signature on the sweeping new law. The decision was made to allow Verizon to provide cable television service without a local franchise, in the belief that new competition will lower cable rates for consumers.

But that wasn’t really the end of the story. As consumers wait for the day when their cable bill goes down, and we think that could be a long wait for many, a little-known rulemaking at the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) — the regulatory agency charged with insuring that competition is open and transparent, and that rates are reasonable and affordable — will determine how the new competitive landscape takes shape. Right now, the BPU is poised to decide a number of critical issues that will have a profound effect on consumers, local governments and the entire state.

While these issues may be complicated and, quite frankly, a bit dull for everyday New Jerseyans, they are very important for the future of cable competition. And this isn’t just about our television service anymore — this is about who will and who won’t have access to high-speed Internet broadband services and the information technologies that are so critical to our modern age. And, importantly, the BPU decisions will mean a lot to our pocketbooks. —>

San Antonio Council Postpones Action On Public Access TV

Today, the San Antonio City Council postponed until next week action that may eliminate Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) access television, after Texas Media Empowerment Project activists highlighted possible contradictions with Texas’ two-year old video franchise law.

The Council’s agenda included item #23, “Agreement with AT&T to conduct testing for PEG carriage on its system,” that deals with a proposed ordinance authorizing an agreement for AT&T to test its U-Verse TV Service to carry PEG programming. A “Request for Council Action” from Ben Gorzell, the head of San Antonio’s Finance Department, however, raises questions as to how the City is interpreting Texas’ state-wide video franchise law that passed the 79th Legislature as SB 5 in September 2005.

Gorzell’s document leaves the impression that the City has the authority to determine whether AT&T or Time Warner Cable should have to carry PEG programming. The document goes so far as to say: “The City could choose to not carry PEG channels on AT&T’s system. However, the City should then consider removing the requirement of its other cable providers in order to be consistent with our cable/video providers. . .”

This statement contradicts SB 5 and if implemented would effectively end PEG access television in San Antonio. Now incorporated into the Public Utility Regulatory Act, SB 5 states: “The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall provide no fewer than the number of PEG access channels a municipality has activated under the incumbent cable service provider’s franchise agreement as of September 1, 2005.” —>

Media Contact:
Stefan Wray, Communications Director
Public Access Community Television
1143 Northwestern Avenue
Austin, TX 78702
512-478-8600 Ext. 13

Cable plan riles towns
Proponents say more competition would result
by Harry Hitzeman
Daily Herald (IL)

—> State Rep. Timothy Schmitz, a Batavia Republican and a member of a committee reviewing the bill, said lawmakers are far from a final vote. “The one you first saw, the one the cities first saw, will not be the version we vote on,” said Schmitz, whose district includes Geneva. “The important thing is that it’s still a work in progress.”

For a week now, motorists have seen a neon-green, nearly 6-foot-tall “box” placed in front of Geneva’s city hall. Geneva is preparing for a battle over a bill that city leaders say could give telephone companies carte blanche over where large utility boxes are placed. City leaders have tried to illustrate this with a large box outside city hall.

City leaders say if HB 1500 is approved, it could enable companies like AT&T to install the boxes anywhere they please. “That demonstration has drawn more people’s attention to read the legislation,” said Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns. —>


Ohio has become the front line in the war over control of how citizens are compensated for use of public property.Senator Jeff Jacobson , (r) Vandalia, introduced SB117 on March 15th that, as written, will take away citizen’s control of their local cable access channels, eliminate your cities control over the public right-of-way, reduce the amount of revenue governments receive to provide key services and allow for redlining of low income neighborhoods and deny them access to cable television.

DATV is not opposed to a statewide telecommunication regulation Bill per se, however it should be a Bill specifically written for Ohio by Ohioans. Not a rubber stamp piece of legislation that has been written by the very corporations it is designed to regulate. DATV has been given opinions by numerous, communication experts, local governments, public interest groups and free press advocates.

It is their expert opinion that Ohio Senate Bill 117, as written, is bad public policy and does not represent the best interests of the citizens of Ohio.The Bill has been assigned to the Ohio Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities committee. DATV urges that the committee take a long look at the specific language of this bill that is supported by AT&T and not opposed by Time Warner Cable. —>

by Jay Shaft

The hearing will feature panel presentations by local broadcasters and community leaders with opportunities for public comment after. This public hearing is one of the public’s few chances to speak out against Big Media before FCC Chairman Kevin Martin moves to lift the last significant limits to runaway media consolidation.

Martin has promised to “hold public hearings in diverse locations around the country to fully involve the American people” in the FCC’s review of media ownership rules. The Tampa event will be the fourth of “half a dozen” proposed hearings. At the first official hearing, held in Los Angeles, more than 1,000 members of the public attended and overwhelming expressed their opposition to any rule changes that would let Big Media companies swallow up more local outlets. Similar sentiments were expressed in Nashville and Harrisburg, Pa. —>

Word to Locals: Set Service Standards
Competition Won’t Cure All, Advisers Tell Town Officials
By Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

Video competition is not going to solve all customer-service problems, so cities and counties still need to craft and enforce local guidelines, attorneys advising the regulators said. Those standards could be most successful if written to guide all service providers in town, not just cable operators, the attorneys advised. That would mean removing customer-service protections from franchising agreements and crafting them into municipal ordinances. The language in these documents should allow for frequent updates to reflect current working conditions.

Lawyers, participating in an April 2 telephone conference hosted by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, said the entry into the market of such cable competitors as Verizon Communications and AT&T could create new problem areas. —>

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

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

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