Decker off to bad start with cable bill push
by John Nichols
Capitol Times (WI)
Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker has begun his tenure as the top legislative Democrat by endorsing the most atrocious piece of legislation currently under consideration in the Capitol. Decker, who on Wednesday was selected by his colleagues to replace former Majority Leader Judy Robson, says that one of his first priorities will be to promote passage of a plan to take the power to regulate cable companies away from Wisconsin communities.
Backed by AT&T as part of a move to consolidate control over communications in Wisconsin, the legislation — Senate Bill 107 — was written in consultation with industry interests with the purpose of undermining consumer protections, threatening public access channels, eliminating the ability of communities to establish basic standards for cable service, and decreasing the likelihood that new communications technologies will be offered to communities throughout the state.
The supposed regulations in this bill are riddled with loopholes that are designed to allow communications conglomerates to deny quality service to low-income and rural areas of Wisconsin. For instance, instead of requiring that cable TV and other broadband providers guarantee everyone in Wisconsin has access to communications networks, the so-called “build-out requirements” are so weak that big firms would be able to avoid them by claiming that providing equal service to the poor, to the elderly and to people living in the countryside is not “commercially reasonable.”
This is such a dramatically flawed piece of legislation that it is entirely reasonable to say that no legislator who is concerned about his or her constituents could back it. Indeed, only the lure of AT&T-linked campaign contributions explains the support it has received — primarily from Assembly Republicans — so far. Why is Decker making this measure his first priority? —>
Selectmen to rule if Comcast violating cable contract
by Victor Tine
Daily News of Newburyport (MA)
ROWLEY – The Board of Selectmen will decide on Nov. 12 whether cable television giant Comcast is in violation of its 9-year-old contract with the town. The decision will be in the wake of a two-hour hearing on alleged violations Thursday night. The session was attended by members of the town’s Cable Television Advisory Committee, the towns special cable attorney and about 20 Rowley residents.
At issue is whether Comcast is providing the public, educational and governmental – PEG for short – services that are called for in the contract, which expires next September. Cable Advisory Committee members claim it is not, and that much of the problem stems from a decision by the company earlier this year to close a studio in Newburyport that had been used by five communities to produce local access programming.
“There is no question that Comcast in every respect, is in noncompliance,” the town’s special counsel for cable television, William Solomon of Stoneham, said late in the meeting. Afterward, he said that if selectmen agree, the town could go to court and get a judge’s order directing the company to comply with its agreement. —>
Can you hear us now, Verizon?
Saying one thing, doing another
by Peter Kenney
Cape Cod Today (MA)
Verizon advertises that, as a company, they are very active in community affairs. Their actual behavior, though, seems at odds with their claims. The public access television station that serves the five towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich and Chatham has long been helpful to local charities and social service groups. It provides complete facilities and staff assistance to produce television programming for use in raising both public awareness and funds. The facility, operated by the non-profit Cape Cod Community Television Incorporated, is even equipped to produce live telethons, something it does a few times every year.
Unfortunately, as well equipped and helpful as the community media center is, Verizon has, on various occasions, made successful telethons impossible. Years ago the community media center paid to have the phone company, then AT&T, install a permanent telephone board with connections for up to twenty-two individual phone lines. Since Verizon took over the AT&T contract to provide telephone service to the area this phone system has worked only intermittently.
Earlier this year, a telethon to combat homelessness on Cape Cod was stymied in its use of telephones during the telethon when — for an as yet undetermined reason — incoming calls failed to reach the studio. Verizon was slated to provide the telephone service using the telephone bank equipment already in place at the access studios. It is not possible to estimate the lost revenues in this instance. —>
York sticks with Time Warner cable TV
One selectman dissents, calling for better public access, NFL Network (ME)
by Katherine Lanzer
YORK, Maine — Selectmen on Monday night approved the renewal of a contract with Time Warner covering cable television service to the town. Town Manager Rob Yandow, whose office administers the franchise contract, said the new agreement is “essentially identical” to the existing one. Dwight Bardwell was the only board member to vote against renewing the franchise agreement, citing the absence of the town’s public access channel as an On Demand feature and Time Warner’s refusal to add the NFL Network to the town’s available programming. —>
Schoharie hopefuls get TV time
by Jennifer Patterson
Times Union (NY)
A program featuring candidates in Schoharie County is now being aired on Time-Warner Public Access channels 17 and 18. The “Meet the Candidates” program gives each of the 14 hopefuls vying for the positions of town supervisor, county clerk and county treasurer the chance to answer predetermined questions on issues. Students enrolled in the TV Studio Production class at SUNY Cobleskill produced the show, which was organized by the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with Schopeg Community Access Television. —>
Open and shut case
by Borys Krawczeniuk
—> As they campaign for re-election, Republican Lackawanna County Commissioners Robert C. Cordaro and A.J. Munchak make the case that their administration has been the most open in the county’s history. They claim they have invited scrutiny by… Working with public access Channel 61 to record commissioners meetings, which are then aired on the Comcast cable system. —>
Using TV to Break Barriers
by Adam Sullivan
Once a week, White River Junction’s Community Access Channel comes alive for a show called “Walking Through Life”. It deals solely with the subject of addiction and mental illness– which statistics show often go hand-in-hand. The show’s host– Linda Carbino– suffers from both. “I believe people want to tell their stories. They want to tell their survival stories too. Like I do. I survived a lot. And I found ways to improve my life and those are the things that I like to stress about,” Carbino said. —>
Cook leaves his mark on Omro Public Access TV
by Aldrich M. Tan
The Northwestern (WI)
Finishing up his latest can of Mountain Dew last week, Jamie Markert is ready for his close-up. Two cameras were focused on the 41-year-old Omro cook Wednesday as he prepared to make one of his delicacies on his public access cooking show “Cooking with Jamie.” Since its first episode in June, Markert has learned some of the tricks of the cooking-show trade. He pre-makes some of the ingredients, such as the homemade tortillas, that he easily pulls out of the refrigerator. —>
Report: Cable to drive IPTV spending
Will pay lion’s share of equipment costs seen reaching $13 billion by 2012
by Jim Barthold
A seeming dark horse, the cable industry, will drive the IPTV equipment market to US$13 billion by 2012, according to a report, “IPTV Expansion Pack 2007” by Dittberner Associates. About $6 billion of that spending will be in North America where cable is the biggest video player, the report continued. “In North America 84 percent of the revenue is the cable guys (so) you can say $5 billion of that $13 billion is North American cable operators (who) are adding more switches and router bandwidth to the network, putting in new modular CMTS’s (cable modem termination systems), new set-top boxes and MPEG-4 encoders,” James Heath, director of broadband research at Dittberner. “And they probably need to buy some new middleware to glue it all together.” —>