Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/12/07

Pa. bill seeks to empower cable customers
by Athena D. Merritt
Philadelphia Business Journal (PA)

Consumer choice and protection are at the heart of a bill introduced on Friday that targets Pennsylvania’s cable industry. The bill, introduced by state Rep. Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, would create a statewide cable TV franchise law and give oversight of the industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Several states, including New Jersey, New York, Maryland and California currently have legislation that would create bodies with similar oversight, Eachus said. —>

Editorial: Don’t mess up cable TV
Times-Reporter (OH)

> We’re all for competition and improving cable service in Ohio, but S.B. 117 wouldn’t benefit consumers, just A.T.&T. This bill now moves to the Ohio House. We hope they have the good sense to vote it down.

Ohio Senate Bill 117 Update
by Scott Bakalar
Word of Mouth (OH)

I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up on SB 117 or not – I’ve been trying to link to articles covering that topic in my “Scott’s Shared Items” section of the WoM sidebar as I find them. I tremendously respect Bill’s opinion on all the topics he covers, but especially when it comes to Public Utilities. That is his area of expertise. Some excellent background on this bill, which provides for digital redlining can be found all over Bill’s blog – but specifically: —>

SB 117: An email to my State Representative
by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Diary (OH)

From an email I sent this morning to my State Representative, Eugene Miller (D-10). Feel free to plagiarize if you’re so inclined:

Dear Representative Miller,
… On Wednesday the Ohio Senate passed Substitute SB 117, which strips local governments of their role in franchising both existing and new cable/video providers. This bill is apparently on a very fast track toward a vote in the House.

While it is being promoted as a necessary step toward “cable competition”, this bill is quite likely to have the opposite effect in lower-income urban markets. New video providers like AT&T will ignore most “low-value” neighborhoods (like the one I live in) in rolling out their new video services, while existing cable companies like Time-Warner will be freed of their existing franchise obligations to provide non-discriminatory service. In effect, SB 117 legalizes the “digital redlining” of low-income communities. —>

Letter: Town deserves better cable access
by Ed Robinson
Swampscott Reporter (MA)

In a recent letter to the Swampscott Reporter, video teacher Tom Reid requested the support of town residents, asking us not to consider switching from Comcast to Verizon cable television until Verizon follows through and includes cable channels 15 and 16 in their programming. I think we should support Mr. Reid in his request. —>

Government access channel gets reprieve
The World Link (OR)

COOS BAY – Channel 14, the public access cable television channel, appears on the verge of reaching a contract extension with the city of Coos Bay. Gordon Young, president of Broadcast Services Inc., met with the city’s Government Access Committee this week and requested an additional year be added to the current contract that expires June 30.

By doing so, it would provide Young and the city time to explore ways to revamp the nonprofit group’s funding sources. Broadcast Services has a $25,000 annual budget, with revenue generated by subscription fees from the various government agencies that have their meetings broadcasted. The revenue pays for operating expenses, including equipment upgrades and replacements, water and sewer, telephone and cable, insurance and other operating materials.

Committee Chairman Mark Daily said an alternative method for raising funds would be to put a nominal fee on cable subscribers. He said it would be worth taking up the subject with Charter Communications and see if some agreement might be reached. Young said he’d like to see a countywide fee instituted so government agencies outside the Coos Bay-North Bend area could have their meetings covered. —>

Editorial: Internet’s value tied to keeping it neutral
Portland Press Herald (ME)

Successful economic eras can usually be traced back to a technology breakthrough and the public policy decisions made to support it. The steam engine was invented, and over time the railroad came into being. A decision to standardize the width of train tracks was the public policy decision that allowed this technology to flourish, and with it the industrial revolution. By the early 20th century, it became clear that the telephone was more than just a novelty that allowed one to chat with a neighbor. Setting the goal of universal service, making sure every American had access to a phone, is the policy initiative that unleashed the full power of this invention.

In the years leading up to and during the early 21st century, the Internet has emerged as a technological development on par with the creation of the railroad or telephone. And like those inventions, the impact of the Internet on our economy — and, in this case, on our ability to exercise our free-speech rights — has been aided by sensible public policy choices. Setting the Internet up as a resource available to all on the same, low-cost terms has made it an unprecedented innovation tool. It has also allowed the Internet to become the place where just about anybody can start a business or make their voice and views available to the world.

Now, however, there are forces working to undo the sensible and essential rules that govern the use of the Internet. Some — though not all — Internet service providers want the ability to create two standards for Internet transmission.


The providers lobbying for change want to be able to create a premium Internet transmission service. This would allow them to charge large Web sites extra for having their data transmitted in the fastest possible way.

For consumers, this would mean that Web sites that make a lot of money or have a lot of financial backing would load noticeably faster on their computers than other Web sites. So, for example, Home Depot’s site might come up on your screen pretty fast. But the Web site created by the local hardware store would load more slowly. —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, redlining, video franchising

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