Public Access Threatened by House and Senate Bills - Take Action!

Public Access Threatened by House and Senate Bills - Take Action!

Three dangerous bills have recently been filed in Congress. Each bill seeks to amend the Telecommunications/Cable Acts of 1984, 1992, and 1996 by removing or greatly weakening the requirement for video service providers to obtain franchises from cities and towns. The franchise fees paid by Comcast to the City of Cambridge provide the primary source of funding for CCTV's operations, as well as those of Municipal TV8 and new Cambridge Educational Access channels 95 and 98.

This means that services and support for local media producers, as well as opportunities to represent your views and interests on cable television, are directly threatened.

The first two bills, Senate Bill 1349 and House Bill 3146, seek to ease telephone company entry into the video market by removing the "obstacle" of local franchising. Local franchising is the means by which cities and towns manage their public rights of way – the streets and sidewalks under which the telecommunications providers lay their cables. Local cable franchising is necessary to require telecommunications providers to pay franchise and public access fees and otherwise support public access as a form of rent for use of public real estate to conduct their business. If these bills pass, it sets the stage for cable providers, like Comcast, to seek relief from key contractual obligations to support public access.

The third, Senate Bill 1504, the Broadband Investment and Consumer's Choice Act, is the most virulent; it would simply do away with local franchise requirements altogether!

The telecommunications companies are complaining that the need to negotiate with each municipality is too great a burden and is hampering their ability to roll out new services – yet we are informed that Comcast reported that earnings are up 64% this year!

We have clearly entered a legislative era in which corporate interests frequently prevail over the public interest. Many in the public access community believe that this is a critical time for producers and members to contact their elected representatives to inform them how much we value public, educational and governmental access, and that it is not right for the federal government to weaken cable franchising and municipal ability to require public access to the media.

What can we do? Start by calling, writing, or sending an email to our Senators and urge them to defeat Senate Bills 1504 and 1349, the Ensign/McCain Broadband Investment and Consumer's Choice Act. Let them know how important public access is to you (tell them what you do here!) and that local control over the public rights of way should not be threatened. Then move on to the House of Representatives and tell them to stop House Bill 3146. Send us copies of your correspondence. Sample letters and legislators contact information are available here.

Your actions WILL make a difference! Our representatives need to know that the voters back home are paying attention, and that these bills will have an enormous effect on our lives.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact CCTV’s Executive Director, Susan Fleischmann. Thank you in advance for your support. Keep an eye on this site and also check out http://www.freepress.net/defendlocalaccess/

Samples:
 
Senator and Representative Contacts:

Senator Edward Kennedy
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202/224-4543
FAX: 202/224-2417
2400 JFK Building
Boston, MA 02203
617/565-3170
Web Form: kennedy.senate.gov/contact.html
Senator John Kerry
304 Russell Bldg., Third Floor
Washington D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2742
(202) 224-8525 - Fax
One Bowdoin Square, Tenth Floor
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 565-8519
(617) 248-3870 – Fax
Web Form: kerry.senate.gov/v3/contact/email.html
And send copies to the following, as they are key Senators working on
these bills.
Senator Ted Stevens
522 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0201
fax 202-224-2354
Senator Daniel Inouye
722 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1102
fax 202-224-6747
Senator John McCain
241 Senate Russell Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0303
fax 202-224-2235
Senator John Ensign
364 Senate Russell Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2805
fax 202-224-6244
Senator Gordon Smith
404 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3753
Web Form: gsmith.senate.gov/webform.htm
Senator John D. Rockefeller
531 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6472
Web Form: http://rockefeller.senate.gov/services/email.cfm
Contact information for our Representatives in the House to comment on
House Bill 3146:
Congressman Michael Capuano
110 First Street
Cambridge, MA 02141
(617) 621-6208
(617) 621-8628 Fax
And send copies to the following, as they are key Representatives working
on these bills.
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
509 Cannon Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-2811
202-225-3004 fax
Congressman Albert Wynn
434 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515-2004
Phone: (202) 225-8699
Web form: http://wynn.house.gov/feedback.cfm?campaign=wynn
Edward J. Markey
Massachusetts-7th, Democrat
2108 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515-2107
Phone: (202) 225-2836

Download and send as a letter, fax
or email.