Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/27/07

Live & Local – Community Media at Risk
Public Acccess Television 18 (IA)

A panel discussion of the issues surrounding statewide cable franchising in Iowa, such as that proposed by the recently passed Senate File 554. Outlines the threats to community media and consumer protection.

Charles Uphoff: Don’t fall for propaganda on cable franchise bill
by Charles Uphoff
Capitol Times (WI)

Is the Wisconsin Legislature being hijacked? Lobbyists for telecommunications giant AT&T have been pressuring Wisconsin legislators to pass sweeping changes in the laws regulating cable TV with a million-dollar media campaign and behind the scenes arm-twisting that would make Karl Rove blush.

Under the guise of promoting increased consumer choice, lower cable rates and high-paying union jobs, AT&T is trying to steamroller bills that would prohibit any meaningful regulation of video service rates; eliminate funding for public access, educational and government channels; and effectively guarantee statewide franchises for the telecom giant in perpetuity. —>

Opinions split on cable TV bill
Lower rates may also lead to less local control
by Eric Litke
Sheboygan Press (WI)

A state bill nearing approval that could lower cable TV rates may also take away nearly all local control of cable franchises, which has city officials worried. The bill could also threaten the future of public access channels such as TV8 WSCS in Sheboygan, they say.

The proposal in the state Legislature has been painted as a competition-enhancing measure in an extensive advertising campaign financed in part by AT&T, which has hired 15 lobbyists to work the state Capitol and is seeking to become a bigger player in the state video market by offering subscription TV service over its phone lines.

But city officials and some legislators worry about the bill’s effect on local municipalities — and ultimately, consumers. “Whether it’s going to be a good thing for the City of Sheboygan or not remains to be seen, but my first impression will be that it probably won’t,” said Sheboygan Mayor Juan Perez. “It just may end up ending the funding for local public access TV.” —>

Community television officials ask Rhoades to fix or oppose cable bill
Randy Hanson
Hudson Star-Observer (WI)

> Kelly said the bill, in its current form, after three years would eliminate a monthly 75-cent PEG (public, education, government access) fee charged to customers that is used buy and maintain equipment for community access stations. Hudson’s cable provider, Comcast, would be freed from making a final $50,000 payment on an equipment grant that was part of its franchise agreement with Hudson and North Hudson, Kelly said.

Also, the company would no longer be obligated to provide free cable TV to Hudson’s public and private schools, as well as government buildings, the public library and the Hudson Sports and Civic Center. Free high-speed Internet service to Hudson City Hall, North Hudson Village Hall, the schools and the library also would be lost, Kelly said. In addition, Comcast would no longer be obligated to provide basic tier programming for $8.70 per month, plus tax, she said.

Kelly said the city and village would lose control of when and where repair work on cables is done. The local cable board would no longer be able to hold cable providers accountable for poor service. Instead, customers would have to take their complaints to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. —>

Tampa and Franchise Fees
by tommy
Sticks of Fire (FL)

Meanwhile, (and I don’t remember seeing this locally, but I could certainly be wrong) along with organizations and local governments nationwide, the City of Tampa has sued the FCC for siding with media outlets regarding cable franchise negotiations saying the FCC forces local governments to “speed the approval process for new competitors, cap fees paid by new entrants to local governments and ease requirements…” This after Trey Traviesa is found pushing a bill (surrounded by puppets) to do away with franchise fees altogether. A move that the St. Pete Times says “would erase virtually all consumer protections“ —>

Tommy — it’s great that you are writing about this. The consequences of this bill do include the possible loss of public access channels, poorer neighborhoods not given access, and higher prices for everyone. And these higher prices will not be for only cable services but also phone and data services. What frustrates me is that this discussion loses site of what brought us to this point. Two things happened in 1995 and 1996 that changed the paradigm under which telecoms operated. —>

Comcast miffed as Chamber takes cable stance
by Bill Harless
Nashville City Paper (TN)

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce board endorsed state legislation yesterday that would allow telecommunications giant AT&T — which recently merged with BellSouth — to obtain a statewide franchise to provide television service.

Comcast, a leading cable TV and Internet provider, expressed frustration after the late afternoon vote that the company was not informed about the vote prior to the meeting though Comcast is a Chamber member. AT&T and Comcast along with the rest of the state’s cable companies are in a pitched battle in the halls of the Tennessee General Assembly lobbying over the legislation, which the cable industry vehemently opposes. —>

Public Access Channels On The Table
by Sean Weide
Omaha City Weekly Media Watch (NE)

A second reading of a city ordinance that would reduce the number of public access channels on Cox Communications’ system is scheduled for Tuesday’s Omaha City Council Meeting. Item No. 61 on the agenda calls for a reduction in the number of cable television channels (from six to three) that are dedicated to public, educational, and governmental programming, as well as to provide for improvements and enhancements to the cable television system.

The changes drew a large crowd – many in opposition of the proposed ordinance – when the Cable Television Advisory Committee took up the matter in February. The committee did not take any action or make any recommendations. Cox Communications wants to eliminate three analog public access channels so it can expand the number of digital channels it offers. Opponents of the plan say moving the channels to the digital tier will limit the number of viewers because digital cable costs more. —>

Rep. Sanchez launching TV show
Cable-access program ‘Loretta Live’ to feature interviews with colleagues, Cabinet members and policy experts.
by Matthew Harris
The Orange County Register (CA)

Rep. Loretta Sanchez is used to being peppered with questions about the latest hot-button issue of the day. But on Tuesday, it was Sanchez who was probing the thoughts of fellow Rep. John Murtha about the controversial supplemental spending bill for the Iraq war. The interview was for her new monthly cable-access show, “Loretta Live.” It’s called “Live,” but actually it’s taped in a basement studio available to all members of Congress. Sanchez plans to interview her colleagues, Cabinet secretaries and policy experts about topics percolating on Capitol Hill. —>

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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