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Senate bill threatens local cable access programming

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posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 02:38 AM
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With the coporate consolidation of our media, here we find yet another sad day for freedom, as public access television is going down, soon...


www.themorningsun.com...
By MICHAEL SPENCE
Sun Special Writer
Local public access television is being threatened by a bill introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
The bill, co-sponsored by senators John Ensign, R-Nev. and John McCain, R-Ariz., will eliminate a requirement for telecommunications companies to pay franchise fees to local municipalities. These fees are required as compensation to the community for use of the public right of way through which the companies route cables and utilities.

Charter Communications, the cable provider in the 12 municipality area, currently pays a franchise fee of five percent of its total revenue to remain the sole service provider in the area. That five percent is then split between the municipalities and the consortium.

Jan Howard, Executive Director of the consortium, said that by eliminating the franchise fees, the bill will eliminate the only source of funding that the public access provider receives.

I had actually met with some local Charter Execs with a proposal for a local comedy television show a couple years ago. We had our own advertisers lined up, so funding wasn't going to be an issue and we were able to throw some names around with a good script, a half shot pilot we produced, and a fairly well known cast and an award winning production crew.
After a two hour presentation and a few meetings, what I learned from that experience was that public access is a joke. But now the last bastion of a real public forum is going to vanish through legislation. Sad really.
Say goodbye to public access television.




posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 02:47 AM
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There's absolutely nothing but crap on public access, I certainly won't shed a tear to lose it if it shaves a couple bucks off my bill and/or replaces these useless channels with something I'll actually watch.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 03:04 AM
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Can't see wasting money on cable when for just a few dollars more I get a hundred plus more channels to flip through.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 04:57 AM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
There's absolutely nothing but crap on public access, I certainly won't shed a tear to lose it if it shaves a couple bucks off my bill and/or replaces these useless channels with something I'll actually watch.


But it's our crap. A pretense nonetheless, but public access was the one thing that kept up at least the pretense of "public" airwaves in place.

If McCain and Ensign get their way (and I'm sure they will), that's it. Just sell off another public resource to Rubert Murdoch or George Soros.

Pat Robertson probably loves this too. No more competition from local ministers. His corporation "is" Christianity now.

This is terrible just to save a few bucks. Freedom costs money.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 05:18 AM
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I don't know what kind of public access you have RANT, but in New York there's a lot more ads for escort agencies than ministers competing with Pat Robertson!


Seriously, it's just crazy stuff here that looks like it's filmed by teenagers living in the projects by day and adult ads by night.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 05:28 AM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
Seriously, it's just crazy stuff here that looks like it's filmed by teenagers living in the projects by day and adult ads by night.


Sure, the Wayne's World stuff. I think that's why people are so willing to get rid of it. But it is their airwaves all the same.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 05:57 AM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
There's absolutely nothing but crap on public access, I certainly won't shed a tear to lose it if it shaves a couple bucks off my bill and/or replaces these useless channels with something I'll actually watch.


It's definately not going to save the consumer any money. Do you think the cable companies will pass on the savings?

Nothing but crap? Do you realize what the public access includes?


"We need local access for television because the major networks aren't going to cover city hall. They don't care, that's why a local municipality is needed to provide information.“


Your Town Board and School Board meetings! Do you want to lose that? I see this having a major impact on the public's ability to know what is going on in their community.

There's another issue too. The revenue that will dry up in your local budget.


The league has estimated that nationwide, municipalities will face a cut of $3 billion annually as a result of the bill.


So this is actually going to cost you. Where do you think your town is going to make up this shortfall in their budget? It's going to have to get passed on to the taxpayer in their property tax.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 06:06 AM
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Originally posted by Relentless
Nothing but crap? Do you realize what the public access includes?


"We need local access for television because the major networks aren't going to cover city hall. They don't care, that's why a local municipality is needed to provide information.“


Your Town Board and School Board meetings! Do you want to lose that? I see this having a major impact on the public's ability to know what is going on in their community.


Yes, outside NY it's actually a very valuable service. Locally, they read classified and important announcements for the blind and elderly. Sounds silly to us, but imagine relying on that. Some people are really needy.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 06:16 AM
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Originally posted by RANT

Yes, outside NY it's actually a very valuable service.


You must mean NY City.
My thoughts actually were prompted by my experiences in a Town one hour north of there.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 06:28 AM
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Originally posted by Relentless
You must mean NY City.
My thoughts actually were prompted by my experiences in a Town one hour north of there.


I did.
But really it's invaluable outside any city. The weekly county paper just doesn't cut it.

I think this attack on public access is just another example of the out of touch culture of corruption in DC.

Rural red staters I know think NPR, the National Weather Service and even PBS are the greatest things since sliced bread. All currently under attack by prominent Republicans.

Maybe the Republicans need to visit the sticks they claim to represent a little more and get a sense of the values important to America. Not just broadcasters like James Dobson and Pat Robertson.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 07:16 AM
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Originally posted by RANT

Maybe the Republicans need to visit the sticks they claim to represent a little more and get a sense of the values important to America.


Well, this one really disturbed me, especially coming from McCain, (What is he thinking?) so I pulled up the bill.

thomas.loc.gov...:1:./temp/~c10979dHYB:e1261:

It appears to be one of those instances where the upsetting issue is not actually stated, but a repercussion of the "good intentions". The bill seems to be about dealing with all the new advances in broadband technology and making the market more competitive and consumer friendly. Removing the monopoly of the current system by default removes the franchise with the municipality.

The issue of the revenue and the public access could easily be rectified by providing in this bill that all competitors in the market contibute to the current system in place.

The problem that can not be resolved is the level of local controls that I don't think most people realize your localities currently have due to the franchise agreements.

This will now be transferred to the Federal level and includes such things as:


(1) reasonable uptime;

(2) installation intervals;

(3) repair intervals; and

(4) suitable voice quality.

(b) Additional Standards- The Commission shall establish reasonable maximum intervals for the performance of different classes of incumbent local exchange carriers.


But it goes further. The franchise agreements gave the Towns a lot of clout. The cable companies are (were?) an unbelieveable cash cow. It was nothing to request in exchange for the franchise agreement that the company provide all kinds of things to the municipality, including entire production facilites to the schools and the equipment needed to film the Town Board meetings.

Here's another example, this time in Florida. The company I work for had no high speed access on the road all their buildings were on when I got there. All of our vendors were going with online systems that their vendors had to participate in to continue doing business with them. I reached an impasse with available services (phone, cable, etc). No one was willing to provide the buildout to the street. I sent an email to the City Manager, explaining that my employer (probably the third largest in this small City) would be forced to relocate due to lack of service (knowing their was no place in this City with enough available land to remain within that municipality). The City Manager was able to immediately get on the horn with the cable company and tell them to provide for us, due to the powers if this franchise agreement.

Under the proposed regulations, these types of things will be a thing of the past. I see that it is inevitable under the circumstances today, and there will be a lot of positives in the more competitive envorinment, but I also see some huge loses in local control and perks that most people are unaware even exist.



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