Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/13/07

NAACP chief: Beware telecom bill that could hurt poor neighborhoods
by Randolph Bracy Jr.
Orlando Sentinel (FL)

I am puzzled by legislation coming through the Legislature that major telephone companies are pushing to bring cable-television services into our neighborhoods. From where I sit, members of the Legislature should be looking under the hood and kicking the tires, for if they do, they would find that this legislation represents a step forward and two steps back.

Indeed, the new telecom legislation pushed by the telephone companies seeks an odd kind of arrangement in which two major telephone companies would enter the cable-television business if the local “non-discrimination” rules were repealed. Current law ensures that all our neighborhoods get access to the new fiber networks that are the bridge to the Information Age for all of our citizens. Given the ever-expanding digital divide in Florida — the gap between those who have access to digital technology and those who do not — the promulgation of this bill into law would represent a serious step backward. Here’s how. —>,0,738266.story?coll=orl-opinion-headlines

Aldermen want to maintain cable control
Resolution opposes franchising changes
by Jeremy Johnson
Hendersonville Star News (TN)

Hendersonville aldermen have made it clear they do not want the state to take way their control over who provides cable service to the city. Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution urging state legislators not to take away local cable franchising rights, joining officials in Franklin and Murfreesboro in expressing their opposition to a proposed cable reform bill currently being considered by state legislators.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen said they are opposed to the “Competitive Cable and Video Services Act” Tuesday night, with the resolution’s sponsor, Ward 2 Alderman Scott Sprouse saying the legislation will hurt local government’s abilities to regulate cable companies, as well as cost the city local access channels and a local cable office. —>

Hudson’s community access cable TV station is threatened
by Randy Hanson
Hudson Star-Observer (WI)

—> Under the last agreement negotiated in 2000, Comcast turns over 5 percent of its revenue from local subscribers to the community access television station, which uses it to operate community access Channel 15 and education Channel 6. Subscribers also pay a monthly PEG (public, education, government) fee that is used to buy equipment for the station. The PEG fee recently increased to 75 cents per month. It had been 25 cents.

That money brings the live and videotaped cablecasts of Hudson City Council, North Hudson Village Board, Hudson Board of Education and St. Croix County Board meetings that many subscribers have come to enjoy. In addition to the local government meetings, we get cablecasts of Hudson High School athletic competitions, Lakefront Park concerts, community parades, candidate forums, church services and locally produced shows like Dick Shager’s “Power News.”

We’re also treated to commercial-free satellite programming, including English-language world news from Deutsche Welle (the German equivalent of CNN), NASA news, Classic Art Showcase, programs for military veterans and about UFOs and the Paranormal.

A bill that the Wisconsin Legislature is considering, enticingly labeled the Video Competition Act, is a threat to the local and satellite programming. I’ll admit that after paying the Comcastic sum of $56.97 for Basic 2 Cable service last month, a bill promising to introduce competition into the cable TV industry has some appeal to me.

But I don’t want it at the expense of Channel 15 and Channel 6 programming. That’s what Nate Skoog, manager of the local community access station, and Judy Kelly, chair of the community television board, say will happen if the bill proposed by state Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Ashwaubenon, and state Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, becomes law in its current form. —>

High-Speed Debate
Online Metroland (NY)

—>   “We’ve listened very carefully to those concerns, and we’ve addressed them,” Brodsky said. “We have the best anti-redlining language in the country.” The bill would require that a company with a statewide agreement serve 50 percent of the state after three years, and 85 percent after six.

Sikora argued that it is the current system that allows companies to pick and choose which markets they enter, whereas Bill 3980 would ensure that the services serve most of the state, resulting in increased competition and a widespread availability of affordable service.

Knobbe voiced another concern. He said that when legislation similar to Bill 3980 took effect in other states, “PEG access facilities were forced to close because of uncertainties and inconsistencies with the bill and some of the technical language not being considered enough,” he said. “We don’t want to repeat mistakes made in other places.”

But Sikora said that this is not the case with this bill. “When you have a franchise agreement, the town and municipalities negotiate for a percentage [for PEG access funding]. Some towns get 5 percent and some do not,” Sikora said. “3980 requires 5 percent.” The bill also contains strong “consumer and worker protection,” he added.

In addition to Verizon, the bill is also opposed by Time Warner and CableVision. “I’ve united them,” Brodsky said jokingly of the companies’ opposition to the bill. “This is the one that’s actually good for real people.” —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

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

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