Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/15/07

Ohio House OKs Franchise-Reform Bill
Amendments Send Legislation Back to State Senate
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

The Ohio House overwhelming approved a franchise-reform bill Thursday that will transfer video oversight to the state Director of Commerce.  Senate Bill 117 passed by a 92-2 vote. The bill had previously been approved by the state Senate, but the house made some amendments before approving the bill, so the legislation must go back to the Senate for approval of the bill’s changes.

Under the terms of the bill, the state official will have 45 days to approve competitive video-service agreements. As amended by the House, incumbent providers will now have to wait until a competitor files to serve a local community before the incumbent can file for state oversight.  The Senate version allowed incumbents to decide if they wanted to opt into state oversight immediately. Because of the changes, the state cable association, which had supported the bill, is now vetting the impact of the changes.   —>

Ohio House passes business-backed bill for cable-TV competition
Cities don’t like pre-emption of franchise contracts
by Alan Johnson
The Columbus Dispatch

Big cable gets its way vs. local franchises
by Aaron Marshall
Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH)

SB 117 passes House 94 to 2; Rep. Miller claims Dems “held the line”
by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Journal (OH)

Every single Democrat voted for it.  The two “No” votes were Republicans Tom Brinkman of Cincinnati and Jeff Wagner of Seneca County.  My Representative, Eugene Miller, never bothered to respond to an email I sent him about SB 117 weeks ago. He apparently never responded to messages from my neighbors Tim and Gloria Ferris, either — at least until today, when he sent Gloria an email with this (a straight cut-and-paste, all errors in the original):

“As a results Democrats’ efforts and negotiations, this bill now protects both companies that want to compete in the cable TV market, and local fees associated with that business.  Democrats held the line,and fought to improve this bill foe the good of all parties involved….”

The likelihood that most (or any) residents of Rep. Miller’s district will soon get access to AT&T’s U-Verse broadband video service — which is the point of SB 117, as in “cable competition” — is pretty small. Ditto the likelihood that many District 10 residents are in line for those “thousand good jobs” the bill will supposedly create.

The likelihood that Time Warner will eventually cut back or abandon service to one or more of these neighborhoods, now that Rep. Miller has helped free them from the constraints of their franchise with the City of Cleveland, is somewhat larger.

The likelihood that city facilities, schools, and the half-dozen community technology centers in his district just lost franchise-leveraged resources, as a result of what Rep. Miller calls “holding the line”, is larger still.

But I guess the residents of his district are not among the “parties involved” who deserved Rep. Miller’s protection.   —>

Senate committee OKs cable-competition bill
Peoria Journal-Star (IL)

SPRINGFIELD – An Illinois Senate committee on Thursday advanced legislation intended to spur competition in the cable-television market and help consumers.  Senate Bill 678, which already passed in the House, still needs approval from the full Senate. Then it would go to the desk of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose signature would be needed to enact the measure into law.   —>

Cable Measure Could Bring Competition (IL)
by Ryan Keith

Amid all the recent political infighting, compromise still can be found at the state Capitol.  Months of intense negotiations have produced a deal that advocates hope will make Illinois a national leader in opening its cable television market to competition. The result could be more choices for consumers who sign up for CNN, ESPN and HBO.

The measure hammered out by state lawmakers and the attorney general’s office would try to make it easier for telephone giants AT&T and Verizon to compete with cable kings Comcast Corp. and Insight Communications for consumers’ phone, Internet and cable needs.

It cleared the House 113-0 two weeks ago and awaits expected approval in the Senate.  That’s a long way from just a few weeks ago, when opposition from city mayors, public access channels and powerful cable companies seemed to have doomed the idea.   —>

Streaming Videos: Panagiotakos sponsored “Verizon” Cable bill. S. 1975 H. 3385 Proposes Elimination of Local Cable Franchising
Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (MA)

The Joint Committee on Telecommunications held a public hearing at the Gardiner Auditorium in the MA State House to hear testimony on the “Verizon” bill. S. 1975 H. 3385. Among other things, the Massachusetts Cable Franchising bill proposes elimination of local cable franchising… A complete video stream of the day’s testimony may be found here.

Cable law changes worry counties
by Jason Schultz
Palm Beach Post (FL)

Officials who run government-access TV channels on the Treasure Coast fear their days of providing easy access to government meetings for residents may be numbered because of a bill signed last month that rewrites rules for cable companies.  “The franchising company has the ability to take the channel back,” said David Graham, who manages Martin County’s government access channel, MCTV.    —>

Towns postpone cable decision
by Kathryn Thier
Charlotte Observer (NC)

Three of the towns considering buying the local cable system have postponed their decision because of a state bill that would regulate municipal communications systems.  One of the towns, Troutman, voted Thursday night to exit the consortium and turn its 405 former Adelphia customers over to Time Warner.

Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville and Troutman were supposed to vote on buying the system today, a deadline set by the judge in Adelphia’s bankruptcy case.  But after it became more clear that the bill might affect the group, the consortium’s attorneys asked the judge for a 30-day delay, said Mooresville commissioner Frank Rader. Instead, the judge gave the towns reprieve until the legislature finishes its action on the bill.

Time Warner will buy the former Adelphia system, which is has been running as a caretaker, if the towns don’t. Because of the town’s previous franchise agreement with Adelphia, they have first dibs on buying the system.

Lawmakers Pass Net Neutrality Resolve

AUGUSTA, Maine — A coalition that includes civil libertarians and online businesses is hailing the Legislature’s passage of a resolution it says sets Maine ahead of other states in speaking out in favor of non-discriminatory access to the Internet.   —>

Live from Nashua, broadcasts of school board meetings on the tube
by Michael Brindley
Nashua Telegraph (NH)

In the hard-nosed battle for primetime TV ratings, there is a new contender. It’s the ultimate reality show, with plenty of drama.  This isn’t some big-budget Hollywood production. It’s the Nashua school board meetings. And though maybe not quite as appealing as “Wife Swap” (which also airs Monday nights), city officials are still hoping you’ll tune in.

For the past month, the meetings have been broadcast live on the new education channel 99, which officially launched last month.  Before that, school board meetings were only being shown after the fact on the city’s government access channel 16, with board of aldermen meetings running live.   —>

Don’t be camera shy
Somebody ought to tell John Wells to go stand in the corner.
by Richard Hyatt
Ledger-Enquirer (GA)

Mary Sue Polleys — ever the school marm — always tried to keep John from misbehaving at school board meetings — even when he acted like an unruly second grader.  She’s no longer in charge, and after his actions Monday the veteran school board member needs to have his knuckles rapped with a ruler.

The latest debate was whether to televise work sessions of the Muscogee County School Board. Regular meetings are on the public access channel, but not work sessions, where decisions are really made.  A majority of the board voted not to broadcast the monthly meetings, saving a whopping $4,000.

Cathy Williams, the board’s newest member, wanted them on TV. John, its most senior member, did not, though he never cast a vote.  Never known as a retiring person, Cathy was pushing a point about public business being public when Wells spoke up.  “I’m not concerned about the public,” he said.

Gasp, the audience said.

His comment set off a predictable firestorm. Cathy’s talking about raising money to get sessions on the air and the Ledger-Enquirer’s thinking about telecasting it on its Web site.  As flagrant as John’s remark is, I’m just as concerned with what other board members said.

Naomi Buckner, always much quieter than Wells, said she voted against broadcasting them because they’re sometimes embarrassing.  “I just don’t want the public to see how we carry on at work sessions,” she said. “People are protecting turf. Sometimes they may tend to get personal. Until we can do better, I just don’t want the public to see us acting like that.”

You’re confused, Naomi. What you describe is the very reason you guys ought to be on TV.

Brenda Storey said not having cameras “allows administrators, the public and board members to broaden the discussion, then bring it back to the main thrust.”  Brenda. Brenda. Brenda. Why should the presence of a camera narrow your discussions?   —>

The ‘reel’ Malden
by James McEvoy
Malden Observer (MA)

No studios. No A-list celebrities. No massive budgets – just a group of Malden students looking to show off the city they call home.  Students from the “Channel Surfing” program, which features pupils from the Beebe, Ferryway, Forestdale and Linden Schools, premiered their recently-completed documentary film, “Malden: My Hometown,” at a screening in the Beebe School auditorium last Thursday night.   —>

compiled by Rob McCaus;and
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, high school television, media ownership, municipal broadband, municipal programming, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, video franchising

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