WI: Video Competition Bill Improved a Bit More

Posted on April 19, 2007 - 7:25am.

from: Waxing America

Video Competition Bill Improved a Bit More

Yesterday, the Video Competition bill got improved quite a bit in the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities.

Today, the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, and Rail added two more significant amendments, both very positive.

The first would grandfather existing PEG channel funding for three years, or the expiration of the current franchise, whichever comes first. This is a great victory for the continuation of local access operations and a certification of their community importance. Pressure for this was generated by a genuine grassroots effort - not an expensive "astroturf" ad campaign.

The second amendment updates statute 134.43, which protects cable subscriber privacy rights, to include new video services under state franchise. This includes subscribers' names and addresses, as well as viewing patterns. This amendment particularly pleases me, since I helped work on the the original bill in 1981, when Rep. Marlin Schneider, always ahead of his time, was its sponsor. The Leg Council's John Stolzenberg, whose analysis is the roadmap to AB 207/SB 107, also worked on 134.43 with us in 1981, and must be also pleased with this update to his legacy. (Marlin, John, and I were all somewhere in our late teens back then.)

There are still some big problems with this bill, particularly with the lack of authority for DFI, and the more than million-dollar cost to the state to handle the complaints that the new wild west in consumer video services will be sure to generate.

Looks like floor action next Tuesday, at least in the Assembly.

I'll keep you posted.

- Barry Orton

( categories: State Franchises | WISCONSIN )