Report From San Antonio

Posted on April 10, 2007 - 7:02pm.

from: save texas access

from the frontlines of the post-state-franchise apocalypse . . .

Report From San Antonio – AT&T Corporate Headquarters
April 10, 2007

The rubber has started to hit the road in San Antonio. More than two years after basically writing SB 5 – Texas’ statewide video franchise law that passed the Legislature in 2005 – AT&T is now interpreting that law for San Antonio city officials.

The San Antonio City Council is poised to vote on an ordinance that will solidify an agreement between AT&T and the city that outlines a scope of work for testing the telco’s new U-Verse TV Service.

City officials outlined the plan for public access advocates at a meeting today in San Antonio’s municipal building.

Part of the proposed agreement says:

“WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 66.009(g) of the Texas Utilities Code the City is required to provide PEG programming in a format or protocol compatible with the AT&T Texas’ IPTV technology. . . “

This is an interpretation of this section of the state video franchise law:

(g) The municipality must ensure that all transmissions, content, or programming to be transmitted over a channel or facility by a holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority are provided or submitted to the cable service provider or video service provider in a manner or form that is capable of being accepted and transmitted by a provider, without requirement for additional alteration or change in the content by the provider, over the particular network of the cable service provider or video service provider, which is compatible with the technology or protocol utilized by the cable service provider or video service provider to deliver services.

An open question is whether or not down-converting the digital video signal to what is basically a Windows Media player format is degrading the original content of a PEG program, and in effect altering the content.

Another aspect of SB 5 that was discussed by public access advocates at the meeting is a specific section that deals with municipal authority to establish guidelines for the operation of PEG channels. So far, San Antonio has not established such guidelines, even though the City is
offering PEG services. But community activists see this as a way to set some ground rules for potential providers like AT&T.

NOTE: This is not the full story on the day. More later.

( categories: AT&T | State Franchises | TEXAS )