[ Two days ago under the subject title “Governor Crist, Veto This Bill” I posted a letter from Tampa Bay Community Network I’d picked up off a blog. Just moments ago I received this appeal directly from Louise Thompson, TBCN’s Executive Director. Note that this is not simply a repeat of the earlier letter, and that they’re also pointing out specific language from the bill. Please do what you can to help. Last year Louisiana’s governor vetoed a state franchising bill – it would clearly help many more of us than just Florida if this year Governor Crist did the same. Thank you. – rm ]
Can you help get this posted on the listservs? We need help quickly. Thanks for anything you can do.
Subject: Write or Call the Gov Today-Save First Amendment
Please act on this today and then forward this email on to EVERYBODY you know.
Dear Friends of the First Amendment:
House Bill 529 went to the Governor yesterday and he must respond to it no later than Thursday, May 10. We have to act quickly.
Please call [850-488-7146] or email the Governor [from this site: http://www.flgov.com/contact_form OR directly [ Charlie.Crist@myflorida.com ] immediately and ask him to veto House Bill 529. Here are some of the reasons:
- The bill is the beginning of the end of PEG [Public, Education and Government] access and free speech on the cable-waves in the State of Florida.
- Removes local control over rights of way and all the provisions that local government negotiated in franchise agreements to benefit their residents.
- Negatively impacts revenues that local government will receive from the companies who dig up our lawns and streets to do business
- Requires service complaints to go to the Department of Agriculture instead of local government. Do you think they will be more responsive to us than our local government?
- Eliminates PEG channels at the end of current franchise terms or 2012, meaning there will be no PEG access channels in a few years. There will be no place to view government meetings; no place to watch Homework Hotline or take a college class. There will be no place for ordinary citizens to get their issues out to their neighbors, for neighborhood concerns to be featured, for non-profits to get free Public Service Announcements made and aired or their events advertised or covered. Without PEG access, residents will have no place to come to take $10 video production classes that are sure to change their lives by providing them new and marketable skills.
- Allows the cable/telecom service provider to discontinue serving subscribers who may not be profitable to them by allowing the cable and telecom companies to stop serving areas with less than 30 homes in a linear cable mile.
- It discriminates against public access.
- It makes it almost impossible for a town or city to get PEG access if it doesn’t have those channels now.
TBCN has been the electronic soapbox for the local community. It has helped neighborhood groups and non-profit organizations get their messages out to the community, recruit volunteers, relay concerns and garner attendance at fundraising events. It’s been covering neighborhood political forums, ML King, Jr. parades, fairs and festivals so viewers can almost “be there.” TBCN has taped and aired panel discussions on health care topics, highlighted local artists and cultural events and provided coverage of University of Tampa and high school sporting events. We’ve given local musicians play on our channels and a chance to show off their talents. Preachers, politicians and producers of TV and film have gotten their starts as a result of public access television training and experience.
Help us continue our efforts in the years to come and for future generations.
Call or write Governor Crist today and tell him to veto House Bill 529.
Thank you so very much.
Tampa Bay Community Network
 Page 26 – Lines 703-706 and lines 719-722 — unconstitutional
Lines 703-706 and lines 719-722 are unconstitutional, content-based discrimination against public access because only public access is singled out for notice that it contains “unfiltered programming and contains adult content,” when both governmental and educational programming also is “unfiltered” by the certificate holder and may also contain “adult content.” Further, “adult content” is a vague and overboard term that is not anywhere defined in the bill or in Sec. 202.11, Fla. Stat.
 Page 26 – Line 708
With reference to the subscriber polling requirement for keeping (after expiration of the existing franchised) or obtaining public access: Not only is such a referendum requirement unique and burdensome, but it appears to require a majority vote of approval “of all the provider’s subscribers in the jurisdiction,” not just of the subscribers who respond to polling. This is not only discriminatory toward public access, but also is a standard that probably can’t be satisfied, no matter how favorably subscribers regard public access.
 Page 26 – Lines 714 through 716 – provides only two access channels, which will virtually eliminate the public’s voice from the cable waves
 Page 27 — Lines 748 through 751 – makes viewing PEG channels more costly
This paragraph permits the cable/video service provider to locate PEG channels on the lowest DIGITAL tier. PEG channels have always been available on the lowest BASIC tier so that they are available to the lowest cost subscriber. To best serve cable subscribers, all PEG channels should be guaranteed that they will be available for viewing on not only the lowest basic tier of service but also on the same channel numbers that viewers have been accustomed to viewing them. In the City of Tampa, for example, viewers can see Tampa Bay Community Network, their pubic access channels, on Channels 19 and 20 if they have Bright House Networks cable. Not only should TBCN stay on those channel numbers, but new cable/video service providers ought to be required to locate TBCN on the same channel numbers on their own systems. This means that Verizon, which recently entered our marketplace, should be required to carry TBCN on channels 19 and 20 as well.
 Page 27 — Lines 751 through 754 – omits Public access from receiving the same notice as other channels
This sentence omits Public access channels from receiving the same 120-day notice provided to Educational and Governmental access channels in the event that the channels are moved to different channel numbers. Again, we don’t think the channels should be moved at all. But, if they must be moved, then the Public access channels should also receive 120 days notice of such a move.