Community Media: Selected Clippings – 09/24/07

State takes control of cable TV franchises
by David S. Glasier
Department of Commerce now awards state television and wire-video franchises
News-Herald (OH)

The channel is changed in the Buckeye State.  Beginning today, the Ohio Department of Commerce assumes responsibility for awarding cable TV franchises and wire-video franchises such as AT&T U-verse.  ODOC also will serve as clearinghouse for consumer complaints about the business and service practices of those franchises.

The change is codified in a bill easily approved by the General Assembly and signed in late June by Gov. Ted Strickland.  This new arrangement replaces the one used since the first cable-TV systems were established in Ohio in the early 1970s. Cable TV and wire-video companies previously negotiated directly with local governments to establish and renew franchise agreements.

…State Rep. Lorraine Fende, D-Willowick, said she’ll closely monitor the economic aspect of the new franchising law and the impact it will have on the service practices of cable TV and wire-video companies.  “I think this arrangement will strike a good balance between local government and consumers while encouraging competition,” Fende said. “But if that turns out not to be the case, then this legislation can be fine-tuned.”

…Kathy Pohl, the public information officer for Mentor, isn’t persuaded that the new franchising law is a good deal for residents of her city or Ohioans, in general.  Mentor this year received a franchise fee of $572,000. The city has a franchise agreement with AT&T for U-verse, too.  Pohl is president of the Ohio chapter of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, an organization of municipal employees who regularly deal with TV and telecommunications companies.

“We believe in choice, but this really wasn’t about choice,” Pohl said. “This is about a piece of legislation written by lobbyists for AT&T after lawmakers were exposed to a public relations campaign fueled by AT&T.”  Pohl said she believes local government entities are in a better position than ODOC to deal with service disputes and customer-related issues.  “Consumers, I fear, will be getting the run-around under the new law,” Pohl said. She also accused AT&T of “cherry-picking” customers for U-verse, or only going into certain areas with the product.   —>

CRTC Proposal Threatens Community Access Television in Canada
by Michael Lithgow
Art Threat (CAN)

Community access television in Canada is once again at risk of being destroyed as an access medium for the Canadian public. The CRTC wants to remove the community channel from the basic cable package, a move that would more or less gut community television as an access medium. Canadians are being urged to write to the CRTC and demand that community television remain in the basic cable package…  If you would like to know more about this issue, and where to find supporting documents such as existing regulations for community television, keep reading   —>

Community coalition pushes for national broadband policy
by Carol Ellison

A broad-based coalition of civic and professional organizations, trade councils and technology companies are urging members of Congress to support community broadband bills that have received strong bi-partisan support in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Letters were sent to both chambers of the U.S. Congress today, signed by the Community Broadband Coalition which is made up of 25 different organizations and companies, ranging from the American Library Association and the National Association of Counties to Google, Intel, and EarthLink.

The letters urge passage of Senate bill 1853, the Community Broadband Act of 2007 introduced by Senators Frank Lautenberg, Gordon H. Smith, John Kerry, John McCain, Claire McCaskill, Olympia J. Snowe, Ted Stevens, and Daniel K. Inouye, .and of House bill 3281 which was introduced by Representatives Rick Boucher and Fred Upton. The letters urge Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor the legislation.

The bills would prohibit states from enacting legislations that forbids local governments from deploying municipal networks.

The text in both letters reads:

Community broadband networks offer the promise of increased economic development and jobs, enhanced market competition, improved delivery of e-government services, and accelerated universal, affordable Internet access for all Americans. Moreover, these networks will help promote our homeland security.

In just the past few years, our nation has lost its broadband leadership position. Having been 1sttin the world in the 1990s, the United States has fallen to 15thamong industrialized nations in broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The United States is also falling behind the leading nations in access to high-capacity networks, cost per unit of bandwidth, and growth of new users. Many countries that are outpacing us in broadband deployment, including Canada, Japan, and South Korea, have successfully combined municipal systems with privately deployed networks to bring high-speed broadband to their citizens. The United States can match or even exceed their successes, but only if community leaders can develop networks that make sense for their communities, including public-private partnerships and systems wholly owned by municipalities.

At the turn of the last century, when the private sector failed to provide electric service to much of America, thousands of community leaders stepped forward to form their own utilities. Now, communities across America are ready to provide broadband access to their citizens, offering competitive alternatives for their consideration.

Communities across America are ready and eager to bring the economic and social benefits of broadband access to their citizens. Today, hundreds of cities have launched community broadband initiatives, either with private partners or on their own, and many more are now in the planning stages. Communities should be encouraged to step forward to do their part to ensure the rapid deployment of broadband to all Americans, and they should have the freedom to choose what makes the most sense for their citizens.

The undersigned trade associations, public interest organizations, local government organizations, and private companies share a common commitment to enhancing the availability of broadband services throughout the country. We thus urge you to cosponsor the Community Broadband Act of 2007.

Thank you for your consideration.

ACUTA–The Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education
American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
American Public Power Association
Association of Research Libraries
Earthlink, Inc.
Fiber to the Home Council
Free Press
GO Networks
Media Access Project
National Association of Counties
National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors
NextWave Wireless Inc.
Public Technology Institute
Skype Communications S.A.
Tropos Networks
Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA)
Utilities Telecom Council
XO Communications

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable vs telco, municipal broadband, municipal programming, municiple wi-fi, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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