WI: State Video Franchising Impact on Oshkosh Community Access Television

Posted on April 7, 2007 - 11:26am.

from: OCAT

State Video Franchising Impact on Oshkosh Community Access Television (OCAT)

Most concerning to OCAT is that the current language in these bills specifically prohibit municipalities from requiring video service providers to provide funds, services, programming, facilities or equipment in support of PEG channels. Without specific language preserving our current PEG funding, this bill will severely impact, if not eliminate the OCAT operation. Over a nine-year period (the balance of our current franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable) it is estimated these bills will have a total financial impact on Oshkosh of anywhere between $2.8M-$3.4M from lost revenue and increased costs. Oshkosh City Attorney Warren Kraft summarizes the major problems with these bills from a municipal viewpoint in his March 23, 2007 Memo. A Wisconsin Association of PEG Channels (WAPC) study estimates that in one year alone these bills will have a negative impact of at least $5M per year collectively on Wisconsin PEG faculties and a $50M impact over a 10 year period. The major talking points of AB 207/SB 107 can be found in WAPC Executive Director Mary Cardona's April 3 Memo.

AB 207/SB 107 damage or shortchange PEG channels like OCAT in six major areas:

1) The bills eliminate ALL PEG fee funding which allow PEG channels to replace outdated equipment and/or facilities

2) The bills will reduce the franchise fees paid by video service providers to municipalities (forcing an increase in property taxes OR a reduction in PEG operating budgets)

3) The bills would require municipalities to be responsible for getting PEG signals to video service providers head-ends (adding new fiber and T-1 monthly lease costs and equipment to PEG budgets)

4) The bills would allow video service providers to send PEG signals out to citizens in a substandard "web streamed" video quality

5) The bills would require unrealistic daily content requirements onto PEG channels that not even most major network affiliates could currently match (or allow the video providers to pull the PEG channels for other uses)

6) The bills would allow video service providers to abandon support for current institutional networks connecting school and municipal buildings.

How You Can Help!

Representative Gordon Hintz and Senator Carol Roessler have indicated they continue to receive letters and emails from OCAT supporters in opposition to the bills. Thank you to all that have taken the time to voice your opposition-- it really makes a difference. Because of your letters of support Rep. Hintz has come out publicly in support of the amendments we want included in the bills. Thank you Gordon! But we still need to get Senator Roessler's support. Please contact her and let her know that you support OCAT and the work we do in the Oshkosh community. More importantly, tell her you want her support of the three key PEG amendments in any telecommunication amendments. If you have not yet done so, we have a sample letter here that you can use to email or write both our legislators. It is important that we encourage all OCAT supporters, viewers and users to do this! Please encourage other OCAT supporters to do the same! Legislators are hearing from AT&T's 15 lobbyists every day on this issue-- shouldn't they hear from Oshkosh residents as well?

Amendments to Make These Bills Better

The Wisconsin Association of PEG Channels, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities have prepared a list of amendments that address the shortcomings of these bills. In addition, the WAPC has identified three key PEG amendments we would like included in any Wisconsin telecommunication legislation:

1) Preserve dedicated PEG funding

2) Preserve free transmission of PEG signals

3) Preserve local control over the content of PEG channels

March 27, 2007 Public Hearing Recap:

OCAT staff, supporters and City of Oshkosh administration attended the March 27 joint Assembly and Senate Energy and Utility Committee's Public Hearing on the bills. With over 300 in attendance the hearing drew a wide range of opposition to the bills from WAPC members, consumer groups and municipalities. Legislators heard over nine hours of testimony, including testimonies from our six representatives. Our goal for the hearing was two-fold: first, we wanted show legislators that OCAT is widely supported, valued and used by all areas of the Oshkosh community. Second, we wanted legislators to consider including three key PEG amendments in any telecommunication legislation:

1) Preserve dedicated PEG funding

2) Preserve free transmission of PEG signals

3) Preserve local control over the content of PEG channels

We know this hearing made an impact on legislators and we'd like to thank all of our presenters. Links to press coverage and other recaps of the hearing are listed below.

Concerns aired on statewide cable bill Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Article (3/27/07)

Warnings Issued As Lawmakers Consider OK-ing Cable TV Competition Channel 3000 Article (3/28/07)

Video competition bill draws mixed testimony Wisconsin Radio Network Article (3/27/07)

Mary Cardona's Commentary on the hearing

Latest AB 207/SB 107 News and Updates:

Listed below are the latest links to press coverage, websites, articles and reports about Wisconsin's AB 207/SB 107.

Dollars go to backers of controversial bill The Capital Times

WI: Loss of public access TV not worth deregulation SaveAccess.org article (4/5/07)

AT&T may offer TV services in city Sheboygan-Press Article (4/4/07)

Editorial: Cable TV bill isn't best deal for consumers Appleton Post-Crescent Editorial (3/30/07)

Bill would slash JATV funding Janesville Gazette Story (3/29/07)

Time is money, market share for U-verse CED Article (3/1/07)

47 lobbyists work cable-franchise bill Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Article (3/26/07)

Related Websites:

Listed below are the links and websites tracking related telecommunication legislation across the country.



( categories: State Franchises | WISCONSIN )