Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/05/08: Tennessee

AT&T bill clears first hurdle in House
by Naomi Snyder
The Tennessean

[ 1 comment – see below ]

Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, who complained he was “left standing at the altar” by AT&T during the last legislative session, was able to get his alternative AT&T bill passed through state House subcommittee Tuesday.

AT&T has been pushing the legislature to get a statewide franchise to offer video services in Tennessee, not wanting to go to individual counties to negotiate separate franchise agreements, as the law now requires.  The cable industry and municipal governments have been opposed and they are in the midst of negotiations with AT&T to iron out a new bill.

AT&T not enthusiastic

AT&T hasn’t greeted Curtiss’ alternative bill with any enthusiasm. It would set up a state authority made up of municipal and county governments to grant state video franchises, which is more say-so from local governments than AT&T wants.  The company ditched its efforts to get a bill passed soon after Curtiss introduced the measure last year.

Curtiss’ bill passed 6-2 in the House Utilities Banking and Small Business subcommittee. It will go next to the House Commerce Committee.  Regardless of what passes, it will be up to AT&T whether they want to sell video services in Tennessee.

Comment: The odd thing about this article’s headline is that it makes it look as if the AT&T-sponsored bill is making progress. In fact, quite the contrary is true: the “Tennesseans are smart enough to write statewide franchising” bill is the one that progressing, not the one from San Antonio.  3/5/2008 3:14:04 PM

AT&T Cable Franchise Bill Advances in House
by Joe Powell
Cup of Joe Powell (TN)

[ comments allowed ]

Last year when Rep. Charles Curtiss proposed changes to the law to allow AT&T to by-pass locally controlled franchises for cable service, the giant telecom decided to abandon efforts to change the law. This year, they may not be happy with the bill, which passed a committee vote yesterday, but they may take what they can get.

A key element to Curtiss’ bill – HB3959, which you can read here – is the creation of a new state agency made up of local state officials to oversee any new agreements. Though the agency would only exist until 2011 unless the state legislature renews it.

Since the state and AT&T have begun doing more business together, will this guarantee the bill’s passage?  Far more background here .

Tenn. Eyes New Franchising Bill
Proposal Would Give Authority 90 Days To Act On Application
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

[ comments allowed ]

A state franchising proposal, which would create a new state commission composed of city and county officials, has passed the Tennessee House utilities, banking and small business committee.  House bill 3959, authored by Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, was approved on a 6-2 vote March 4.

The bill would create a statewide franchising option desired by AT&T Inc., but with a longer timeline that approved in other states. The current proposal would give the new Tennessee Cable and Video Services Authority 90 days to act on a franchise application. The bill allows for extension of that time period to allow for further investigation of an applicant.   State franchise blls in other states guarantee action on an application in less than a month.

An applicant would face a 15-member commission, whose members will come from the ranks of the Tennessee Municipal League and the County Services Association. The activities of that board would be funded by application fees. But if an applicant is franchised by the state regulatory authority, it would be granted a 10-year franchise.

The bill now goes to the house commerce committee. The concurrent state senate bill has not been voted on in committee.

Legislative alert: AT&T cable bill advances
by R. Neal
TennViews (TN)


Joe Powell has the latest update.  I have not had time to study the new and improved “compromise” bill. Does it protect local control of rights of way? Does it prohibit cherry picking and require operators to build out into under served and economically disadvantaged areas? Does it protect local PEG and public cable access broadcasting?…

Not quite as egregiously bad…
Submitted by Mark Harmon on Sun, 03/09/2008 – 12:17.

The Curtiss/Burchett cable bills are in the not-as-egregiously-bad-as-the- original category. The new bill still does not require full build out (neighborhood cherry picking would be okay), has lots of incentives for existing franchisees to dump or not renew their local agreements and local franchise fees, but has some protections for access channels and against overt racial discrimination.

The better option, strengthening existing local franchise arrangements, is not on the table.

A quick check of the online campaign finance site shows from mid-2007 to present AT&T continues to pour dollars into campaign coffers statewide. Of local interest: $1000 to Jamie Woodson, $300 each to Park Strader and Joe Armstrong, and $200 each to Frank Niceley, Bill Dunn, Harry Brooks, and Harry Tindell.

The Ketron/McDaniel Bill is AT&T’s bill: cherry pick neighborhoods, wipe out franchise fees, let cable companies usurp access channels if on any occasion they fall below eight original program hours a day.  The online records indicate State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) has received $4950 in AT&T PAC money since 2004, including a $1000 contribution this past Nov. 29th. Senator Douglas Jackson (D-Dickinson) also is sponsoring; he has netted $1800 from AT&T PACs, including a $1000 contribution on January 2nd.

House sponsors Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads) and Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) have received AT&T PAC contributions totaling $2250 and $2050 respectively. The three other House sponsors (Reps. Cobb, McCord, and Watson) tally a combined $1850 in AT&T PAC contributions.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

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

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/05/08: Tennessee”

  1. […] 2008/ 03/ 09/ community-media-selected-clippings-0305… […]

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