Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/13/08

State Sen. Finney’s constituent survey
by R. Neal
BlountViews (TN)

If you’re reading this, you probably got State Sen. Raymond Finney’s annual constituent preference survey in the mail. If not, it’s also in today’s Maryville Daily Times. If you don’t have that, it’s online at Senator Finney Listens. Sen. Finney (R) represents the 8th Senate District which includes Blount County and Sevier County. I don’t agree with most of Sen. Finney’s politics, but I have always given him an A+ for constituent outreach. I can’t really blame him for the fact that his views represent the majority view in his district. Instead, it is a challenge for the more progressive types in Blount County to educate voters on a better way forward.

The survey has an introduction with some background on several issues that will be before the Tennessee General Assembly, which just resumed session this week. He asks for your opinion on them, and shares his views on most. A couple of things I found interesting:

• Last year, Sen. Finney said he would vote against the AT&T statewide cable franchise bill, but AT&T withdrew it for lack of support so it never made it to the floor for a vote. In this latest survey, Sen. Finney seems to have reversed his previous position and now appears to support it. There were some minor changes regarding local control of right of way, but it’s essentially the same bill. It’s a bad bill that will eliminate local control of cable franchises, regulate local franchise fees, restrict or eliminate customer service and quality standards, restrict or eliminate local build-out requirements, and threaten local public, educational, and government (PEG) cable access. (Note: his survey question on this is biased, because it implies that without statewide contracts local governments will only have one provider. There is nothing stopping AT&T or anyone else from submitting proposals, and in fact they have been invited to do so.) —>

All announcements, all the time
by Andrea Downs
Boston Globe (MA)

If you’re curious about parking bans, weather, school or meeting cancellations, and other up-to-the-minute Brookline news, your cable subscription just got more useful. Brookline Access Television has added a dedicated channel for such announcements, as well as show promotions and public-service announcements, according to director Peter Zawadzki. Public servants from the Health Department to the police have been trained in how to access and edit announcements on the channel, which will run on Comcast 24 and RCN 13. The third channel joins a public-access programming channel (3 on both carriers) and the education and government channel (Comcast 23, RCN 15).

Charter faces complaints
by Lisa Satayut
Morning Sun (MI)

Charter Communications, the monopoly that controls the cable TV in mid-Michigan, is either cutting back and ignoring its customers or trying hard to be the best it can be, depending on who you talk to. Jan Howard, executive director of the Mid Michigan Area Cable Consortium, said the number of complaints she has received from customers about Charter Communications have increased dramatically since the inception of the Uniform Video Services Local Franchise Act last year.

“There have been a number of concerns about billing and customer service,”Howard said. Although municipalities can no longer provide protection for Charter customers, they are still the primary resource of customer complaints because the city is the local franchising authority. On Dec. 21 2006, Gov. Granholm signed the legislation to promote competition among video service providers in Michigan. That legislation went into effect January 2007. One year later, some have concerns that the law is having a detrimental effect on cable customers.

Prior to the law, cable providers in Michigan were subject to federal laws and regulations that were uniform across the country. These laws were designed to protect all parties including the cable provider, the customer and local governments. Enforcement was implemented by local communities, which could apply local standards and in turn invoke fines on the cable providers if they were not following the standards.

Under the act, that is no longer possible. “They (Charter) have no fear. Who is going to bother them? What do they risk by not listening to these people?” Howard said. “To us they are citizens, to Charter they are customers,”she said. “They have no responsibility except to continue to collect money and to provide a service.” —>

‘Frustrating to have to wait’
Council members find it takes time to accomplish goals
by Mallory Panuska
Times West Virginian

—> With goals to promote council business by way of public access television and an improved Web site, some of Councilman Matt Delligatti’s objectives were accomplished this year. “With public access TV, I think D.D. Meighen has done a fantastic job with the channels,” he said. “More and more of our meetings are on the public access channel, and I think the community really appreciates that.” Delligatti added that for the future, he would like the city to appropriate some funding to the public access station for cable networking to keep these efforts going. He also applauded the efforts made to re-design the city’s Web site, which have been ongoing for a while and finally came together this year.

Towns show Yankee thrift in budget drafts
Milford does some trimming, but hikes stay for public works, fire department spending
by Hattie Bernstein
Nashua Telegraph (NH)

—> The town expects to spend more for fire department services and elections, and also anticipates an increase in the Public, Educational and Government Access television budget, given the addition of an employee in PEG Access who was hired midway through the last fiscal year, Scaife added. The proposed PEG Access budget, $71,425 is up by $12,369 over the current budget of $59,056.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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