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WI: Community access TV threatened by statewide cable franchise bill

By saveaccess
Created 03/17/2007 - 12:14pm

from: Fox Cities HD [1]

Community access TV, including Oshkosh OCAT, threatened by statewide cable franchise bill

The following letter from Jon Urben at Oshkosh Community Access Television (OCAT) has been circulating online today and we felt it bore reprinting. The issues specific to OCAT as described below are certainly not exclusive to them. If you believe in the importance of community access television, please read on and forward this to others.

March 16, 2007

Dear OCAT producers, guests and supporters:

I am going to be very blunt with this letter. OCAT’s existence is in jeopardy and we need your help.

A bill was proposed last week by state Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Green Bay, that will strip the authority of local municipalities to manage local cable franchise agreements and replace it with a one-size-fits-all franchise agreement process managed by the state. The bill has been titled Proposed Video Franchising Legislation LRB 1914/3.

[Read Bill (PDF)] [2]

The proposed bill has raised “significant concerns” by both local governments and Wisconsin PEG (public, educational and government) access channels like OCAT. The League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities and the Wisconsin Association of PEG Channels have been working together for several months to communicate to the bill authors that local control of the franchise process is essential. Local control, through local franchise agreements, allows municipalities to ensure fair compensation for the private use of the public rights-of-way; video services for all residents, not just a select few; proper repair of streets and roadways that get damaged by telecom providers; protection of consumer rights and continued availability and funding of PEG access channels and facilities. Unfortunately, the proposed bill does not have adequate language addressing these key issues.

Most concerning to OCAT is that the bill will prohibit municipalities from requiring video service providers to provide funds, services, programming, facilities or equipment in support of PEG channels. Without specific language protecting current PEG channels and funding, this bill will cripple, if not eliminate the OCAT operation.

I am asking you to write or email your legislators and state that you oppose Proposed Video Franchising Legislation LRB 1914/3. I have attached a sample letter for you to use as a template. Download file (PDF document file).

In your response, please do the following:

1. Tell them how OCAT’s local programming is important to you, your organization and Oshkosh residents. Give examples and stories of how OCAT has helped promote or educate residents about your cause, your services, your event, your mission or your message. Tell them about any feedback, input or response you’ve received from either appearing on OCAT programs, producing your own OCAT program, or having OCAT televise your event. Tell them why you think OCAT cannot and should not go away.

2. Tell them that you support competition in the telecommunication landscape, but not at the cost of losing access channels, programming and services like OCAT.

3. Ask them to support amendments to this bill that will protect PEG access, consumers and existing municipal revenue.

Remember: Your response doesn’t have to be a term paper- just jot down your comments and send it or email it to your legislator (emails below). Please send me or email me a copy so I can also keep track of the responses. Please don’t put this aside-this bill is moving very quickly through the process and we need to act now to be heard.

I would be happy to provide you with more information and specifics on why this bill will hurt OCAT. Please contact me at the OCAT office (920) 236-5269 or email me at

WE NEED OCAT SUPPORTERS TO APPEAR AT THE PUBLIC HEARING: We are told the Assembly’s Committee on Energy & Utilities will be holding a hearing on this bill on Tuesday, March 27, 2007. If any of you would be able to attend this hearing and read your response we would be very grateful. Such presentations make a huge impact, especially comments from OCAT users, viewers and supporters. Transportation to this hearing can be provided. I will be in touch with details on the hearing when they are made public.

Please help us convince Wisconsin legislators that specific language protecting PEG funding, channels and support needs to be included in any telecom reform bills in Wisconsin. I appreciate your time in this important matter.

Kind Regards,

Jon G. Urben
City of Oshkosh

Rep. Gordon Hintz email:
Sen. Carol Roessler email:

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