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State Statewide Video Franchising Reforms

Taking Action to Protect PEG Public Access Stations- Illinois Investigating AT&T

AT&T's new cutting-edge television service, U-Verse, is creating frustration for community programming advocates and being investigated by both state and federal officials.  After receiving a large number of complaints, Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, launched an investigation into the U-Verse system's underminging of  access to PEG channels (i.e. Public Education and Government stations). 

Overview

Statewide video franchising agreements,enacted in many states, have undermined consumer protections previouslyprovided by local franchising agreements. Analysisof the effects of statewide video franchises found that consumers in statesthat have enacted statewide franchising laws have seen their cable servicebills go up 8 to 50 percent, depending on the level of service. Further, consumer's complaints, instates with statewide video franchising, remain high with 74% of surveyrespondents reporting no reduction in the level of complaints.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, serviceproviders have argued for years that the streamlined process of statewide videofranchises, instead of local franchising agreements, could have benefits forthe public; such as slightly increasing competition or facilitating a morestrategic statewide universal deployment plan. These providers with interests in breaking into the TV industry, have putintense pressure on legislatures to adopt statewide video franchises. The problem is that industry playersoppose the public interest requirements that always have gone hand-in-hand withfranchise deals.

Overview

Statewide video franchising agreements,enacted in many states, have undermined consumer protections previouslyprovided by local franchising agreements. Analysisof the effects of statewide video franchises found that consumers in statesthat have enacted statewide franchising laws have seen their cable servicebills go up 8 to 50 percent, depending on the level of service.  Further, consumer's complaints, instates with statewide video franchising, remain high with 74% of surveyrespondents reporting no reduction in the level of complaints.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, serviceproviders have argued for years that the streamlined process of statewide videofranchises, instead of local franchising agreements, could have benefits forthe public; such as slightly increasing competition or facilitating a morestrategic statewide universal deployment plan.  These providers  with interests in breaking into the TV industry, have putintense pressure on legislatures to adopt statewide video franchises.  The problem is that industry playersoppose the public interest requirements that always have gone hand-in-hand withfranchise deals.

Statewide Video Franchising Legislation: Bad Bills in Tennessee & Louisiana, and an Innovative Approach in Minnesota

Legislatorsin both Tennessee and Louisiana have heavily promoted statewide videofranchising legislation this session.  Just this past week the Tennessee House approved HB 1421, the "Competitive Cable and Video Services Act," while Louisiana legislators have introduced multiple statewide franchising bills, with SB 807 having the most momentum.  The common thread between each Louisiana bill is that they are all bad for consumers.  

Michigan Fights to Ensure PEG Channels Are Available to All

The future is very uncertain for public, education and government (PEG) channels.  Theselocal channels have traditionally been carried by cable companies as apublic service to highlight local community and public voices.  Historically, PEG channels have been receivable on both analogand digital service, ensuring that PEG stations were accessible by anyindividual with a television, regardless of income level or cablepackage.  Now that the Digital TV transition is just around the corner, the question is what happens to these channels.  

Mapping and Deploying High-Speed Broadband

Despite claims by the Bush administration that most Americans now have access to affordable broadband, many people might disagree and would probably argue that their Internet access is to slow and to expensive.  Most analysts are nowhere near as optimistic as Bush's "Networked Nation: Broadband in America." These analysts highlight that the U.S. has fallen to 15th in world rankings for broadband connectivity and that Americans pay much higher fees for much slower speeds than most of the industrial nations in the world.  Misguided regulatory policies and substandard infrastructure have helped create a sub-parbroadband network in the United States.