Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/16/07

Action Needed on PATV Law
Trish and Ellen, RR-Iowa Coordinators
Blog for Iowa

Please contact your State Representative today about Senate file 554 (video franchise bill) that passed the Senate and is currently in the State House. If the bill passes before April 27 PATV could lose funding. Programs such as Democracy Now! could be threatened.

ACTION: Please tell your state rep how much you value public education channels. Ask them to support amendments that ensure continued funding of PEG (public education and government) programming.

Consumers lose if state takes cable TV control
by Carl Laundrie, Communications Director, Flagler County
Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)

—> Phone companies, with powerful lobbyists, stand poised and ready to swoop into the Florida cable television market but don’t want to have to deal with 67 counties and more than 1,000 cities in the state that regulate cable television franchises.

Currently to offer cable TV service to an area, the provider is required to approach local government for what is called a non-exclusive franchise. Which means more than one cable provider can be approved for an area, but all of them must apply. Local governments impose regulations such as providing service to the entire area and not just lucrative customers.

Local governments also require government access channels for public, educational and governmental uses tailored specifically to the area served. In some cases local governments also require free service to public buildings. If service quality in an area is poor local government is the place for a resident to go to get it corrected.

The legislation being proposed would take away local governments’ bargaining power with cable companies. By 2009 customer service complaints would be sent to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Tallahassee. Public educational and government channels that exist currently would be continued but would be required to offer nonrepetitive local content and operate more than 10 hours a day. Requirements to serve all areas, not just the lucrative markets, would fall by the wayside. —>

AT&T wants to bypass local franchising
By Clint Confehr
Shelbville Times Gazette (TN)

—> As for the prospect of his bill becoming law, he said, “We don’t have a majority already, but we have a majority who are of an open mind.” … This week, state lawmakers should address the so-called PEG Channels, named for public, education and government programming, a designation for those channels provided to local governments when the original franchises were issued, Ketron said.

Fiction and Facts on Bill for Cable Franchises
by Joe Powell
Cup of Joe Powell (TN)

The state continues to consider handing AT&T a sweet deal to bypass local control of cable franchises and has picked up the support of the ever-dubious lobbying of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, which continues to exude hearty support for corporate interests and little support for the average Tennessean. The Chattanoogan offered the TCPR and their president Drew Johnson the first of three editorials on the cable franchise bill…

Johnson’s claims are just shy of some basic facts, as noted by Stacey Briggs of the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association: “The “Tennessee Should Tune into a New Era of Cable Competition” article written by Drew Johnson and published on your site, is wildly inaccurate and an extremely misleading piece of information to appear at a time when legislators are debating whether to dismantle the local franchising system as AT&T is proposing.

Mr. Johnson writes that “it’s exactly how the cable industry operates in Tennessee” that there is a law that limits one cable provider in any city. He repeats it, “Only one franchise is given per locale, meaning there is only one choice in cable for residents.” This is simply not true. There are no exclusive cable franchises in Tennessee, and even limited exploration of the industry and local franchise law would have made Mr. Johnson – who works for the Tennessee Center for Policy Research – aware of this. No other published account has stated there is a law prohibiting AT&T’s entry into any city – in fact, the immense amount of testimony in Nashville and the media coverage about it makes it clear AT&T has had the ability the past 11 years to compete.

The fact is, AT&T can compete in any city in Tennessee today. It could go directly this afternoon to see Mayor Claude Ramsey and Mayor Ron Littlefield, file applications and get approvals within 90 days to provide video service to folks in Hamilton County. But that’s not what the company really wants – it has proposed a sweetheart deal that would give the company greater competitive standing than any cable company could ever dream, would diffuse almost every existing consumer protection and allow the company to step over the very laws that protect local public rights of way.”

More on the cable franchise bill
by R. Neal
Knox News (TN)

Another update on the state-wide cable franchise bill. The latest edition of the KNS’s Greater Knoxville Business Journal has this point-counterpoint between an AT&T spokesperson and Knoxville City Councilman Rob Frost:

FROST: “Competition is good, but the competition AT&T is talking about providing is to a fraction of our society. AT&T can come in right now, but they would have to provide their service to everyone. AT&T doesn’t want to play by the rules that everyone else has. “They’re going to provide competition to the wealthiest of the wealthy and no one else. Government should not be in the business of allowing the creation of economic classes. This is coming from someone who traditionally votes Republican, but right is right and wrong is wrong, and this is wrong.”
Read the whole thing.

The Elephant In The Room
by Bunnie Riedel
Telcommunications Consultant

—> I wonder how long the conversation about media consolidation will last? This past week I finally heard some black journalists getting a chance to tackle the subject on Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz. But when one of the journalists started really drilling down on who owns the air waves, Kurtz cut him short because it was time for a commercial break.

So it’s no wonder that we never really get to how racial exploitation is a big money maker and how Hollywood continues to rake in dough portraying every black man as a pimp and every black woman as a prostitute. And we can’t get there because the board rooms of corporate media are short on women and certainly short on people of color.

Herald Forums: Last week’s question:
The Herald-Mail (MD)

Many who responded to this column recently called for better communication between citizens and Washington County government. Would it help if the county televised its meetings as Hagerstown does?

* Yes, it would be helpful to be able to access the meetings via television. I was outraged to learn of the language used by former Commissioner John Munson in a meeting last year. I believe that if video of that event would’ve been made public widespread condemnation would have resulted. In short, the more exposure given to the workings of the county government, the better. Perhaps those who vote for such candidates would begin to feel regret the decisions made in the voting booth. —>

Q&A: New LCTV personality Brian Kahle
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (NY)

The public relations expert, long a visible personality on AM Buffalo and the WKBW-TV news desk, is giving regular TV another whirl after seven years away from the studio cultivating his marketing companies. Filming of “Kahle & Company,” a monthly telemagazine show set to air this month, started Saturday in Kahle’s Lockport home. A takeoff on his WLVL radio show, it aims to shine a light on interesting people, places and events around Western New York. Every month, Kahle, the host and executive producer, will look in on four different topics by inviting “company” into his home for conversation.

The show will premiere April 26 on LCTV Channel 20 and shortly after that on Time Warner public-access cable in Erie County. —>


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

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

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