Cable Franchise Hearings Follow Up (6 comments)
Manhattan Neighborhood Network (NY)
What happens when you mix devoted MNN producers, with an opportunity once every 10 years to testify to Time Warner on why they should continue to produce. The heartfelt testimonies of yesterdays Franchise Hearings at Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca. If you weren’t able to make the event but you still want to testify on behalf of public access or other Time Warner consumers then mail your testimonies to:
Care Of: Stanley Shor, Assistant Commissioner Franchise Administration
New York City Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications
75 Park Place-9th Floor; New York, NY 10007
Include your position on cable access, expansion of cable access resources, the strength of independent media to represent stories excluded from national or local news programs. What you want to see from Time Warner in terms of service requests, responses to customer service and services offered through Time Warner, such as movies on Demand and DVR options.
Make your voices heard!
Huntington makes public access TV deal
by Deborah S. Morris (3 comments)
The Huntington Town Board unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday with Five Towns College for the school to administer and operate public and educational access cable television channels. Under the town’s cable franchise agreement with Verizon, the telecommunications company must provide one full-time public access cable channel and one full time educational access cable channel for the sole use of residents.
The town currently has an agreement with Cablevision that provides $50,000 for educational and public access channels and studios in Woodbury to the town for residents use. Because Verizon did not want to provide such facilities, they agreed to pay the town $10,000 for public access and $20,000 for educational access channels provided the town find the facilities.
With the Verizon agreement the company will also pay the town $50,000 for a government access channel, but Huntington Town spokeswoman Fran Evans said those funds are being putting aside for now. According to town officials, Five Towns College has agreed to provide facilities, services and professional expertise in connection with the operation and administration of the public access channels. The agreement will be in effect until Nov. 9, 2016. According to Evans the channels can begin broadcasting as early as the spring. —>
Supervisor rips state leaders
Local officials give update on their cities, township
by Gordon Wilczynski
Macomb Daily (MI)
In his closing remarks during the annual State of the Communities Luncheon sponsored by the Sterling Heights, Utica and Shelby Township Chamber of Commerce, outspoken Shelby Township Supervisor Skip Maccarone praised his colleagues but came down hard on state politicians. “I must say that the state has failed us all,” said Maccarone. “I cannot fathom the devotion to partisanship we continue to see overriding one’s oath of office to discharge their duties faithfully and for the common good.”…
… He also pointed to the 2007 Michigan Cable Franchise Act, which was to stimulate competition and lower cable rates. He said cable rates have risen in historic proportions. Maccarone also said that Comcast Cable is intent on disenfranchising 500,000 of its low-profit customers in Michigan. —>
Cable TV Oversight Could Shift To State (4 comments)
The State House Consumer Affairs Committee is considering a bill that would eliminate the local franchise agreements for cable TV companies. Instead the State Public Utility commission would deal with cable. —>
Community Media Strategy Session 2/17
by Gordon Smith (4 comments)
—> The Community Media Strategy Session will take place on Sunday, February 17th from 1pm – 3:30pm. I think we’ll be at the West Asheville Library, but I haven’t yet nailed the room down. Come back later this week to confirm the location. I’m very excited to get together and formulate a common, actionable agenda. With our disparate media and intentions, it’s going to be an exercise in give, take, and creative problem solving. Please bring your brains.
At this time, we’re accepting nominations for a Strategy Session Moderator. Anyone can be nominated, though whether that person accepts will be up to them. We’ll need someone who knows how to run a tight meeting, make sure everyone gets heard, synthesize ideas and information, and move us towards a common agenda. Leave your nominations in the comments. —>
The Big “Digital Conversion”- What’s it mean?
by Laurie Cirivello
Grand Rapids Community Media Center (MI)
The word digital is everywhere. The government is offering coupons to buy digital TV converter boxes. Access stations are griping about threats to move channels to the digital tier on cable. Commercials featuring well-spoken seniors are talking about a February 2009 digital deadline after which time, some TV’s won’t work at all. If you are like most folks, this is very confusing. Should you care? Should you be doing something? —>
Texas Cable Law Challenge Reinstated
State Cable Association Lawsuit Can Proceed After Appeals Court Ruling
by Kent Gibbons
Cable operators in Texas, through their trade association, can proceed with a federal lawsuit against a statewide franchising law that excludes incumbent cable companies. The Texas Cable & Telecommunications Association sued over the new law – known as “SB5” – the day after it was signed into law in September 2005. A federal judge in Austin, Texas, tossed out the lawsuit in September 2006, determining the cable group hadn’t demonstrated injury against the cable companies and that “the case was not yet ripe for litigation.”
A four-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned that judge’s decision, in an order filed on Thursday. The appeals court judges determined that the exclusion of incumbent cable operators was a direct injury, as the incumbent companies miss out on an economic benefit by being unable to obtain a statewide franchise. New entrants, the appeals court said, benefited by avoiding the licensing costs of obtaining franchises with individual municipalities. —>
Cable and Broadcasters Align to Fight FCC
by Stacey Higginbotham (3 comments)
The switch to digital cable isn’t just yielding a multibillion spectrum auction, it’s also prompting cable companies and broadcasters to join forces and fight against a government mandate.
The government’s been worried about how cable subscribers would get their less-watched local broadcasts once the analog signals go dark next February. Enter the dual-carriage rules, which were put forth by the Federal Communications Commission last fall.
The rules dictated that unless a cable carrier was really small, and paid the legal fees to get an exemption, operators needed to carry certain programming (such as public access channels and local niche programming) in both dual and analog versions until all subscribers had a digital set-top box or TV capable of converting digital signals.
Cable companies don’t mind doing this for popular local broadcast channels, but smaller ones will take up twice the space on a cable network under these rules. Obviously cable companies, which already face capacity constraints, would like to choose how they allocate their capacity, rather than have the government mandate it.
The major cable operators represented by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association grudgingly agreed to the rules, but the American Cable Association, which represents smaller cable firms, came out against it. On Monday, six programmers representing cable channels including C-SPAN, Discovery Communications, The Weather Channel and Scripps Networks sued to stop the rules from going forward, saying that if it did, cable operators might have to dump their channels to make room for the duplicative signals.
Martin Plan: Cable Must-Carry For Class A TV
FCC Commissioner Calls For Industry To Distribute Hundreds Of Low-Power TV Stations
by Ted Hearn
Opening a new front in his battle with cable operators, Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin wants to force the industry to begin carrying hundreds of low-power local TV stations that up to now have not had such access, except in the most rural parts of the country. According to two FCC sources, Martin, a Republican, circulated his proposal Tuesday to the other four FCC members. Under Martin’s plan, the process would begin with adoption of a notice of proposed rulemaking at the FCC’s public meeting Feb. 26. If Martin is planning to exit with the Bush administration next January, he is probably looking for quick action by the agency. An FCC spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment.
For decades, the cable industry has fought attempts by the federal government to force carriage of local TV stations. The last attempt to fight carriage mandates ended in a 5-4 Supreme Court victory for TV stations in 1997. Adoption of the Martin-backed plan could be a windfall for the owners of Class A TV stations as the regulations would provide those broadcast outlets with instant access to about 60% of TV homes in a typical market. —>
On Politics: Spam Media Versus Social Media
by Matt Stoller
I gave a speech today at UConn Law School about the internet, free speech, and a new framework for campaign finance regulation. Basically I divided the world up into spam media (TV, radio, mail) and social media, and said that the former should be regulated and the latter not so much. A description of the event and a copy of my speech is on the flip.
I spent all day at a conference at University of Connecticut Law School put on by the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal. Unlike most of these conferences, which are law professors teaching law students about how they think about the world, the organizers of this conference decided that practitioners ought to be represented. I was on a panel with Adam Bonin and former FEC Commissioner Robert Lenhard discussing political speech and the internet. I followed panels with netroots activists Tim Tagaris, Matt DeBergalis, and Melissa Ryan, as well as scholar Diana Cohen.
I heard an exciting keynote speaker by NYU Law Professor Beth Noveck who is doing some important practical work on egovernment and the patent office that will probably become a model for progressive governance. Noveck seems to be searching for a new liberal foundation for governance that moves beyond the traditional liberal orthodoxy of expert-driven policy making. Individuals should be involved in government, not equally, but based on their own passion and interest and a decentralized model where officials break up work into small discrete chunks that citizens can work on. She emphasizes passion and fun as key motivators in making a progressive state work; I’ll try to get the text of her speech, I think her ideas are important.
Thanks very much to Symposium editors Sandy Costa, Olga Konferowicz, and especially Katrina Goyco for helping organize this event. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Julia Dunlop, Michelle Helmin, Gabe Rosenberg, Leslie Levin and Paul Schiff Berman.
And without further ado, here’s my speech. —>