Tag Archives: Franchise License

Deal would double local access budget in Beverly

Beverly Mass: The city’s licensing authority is close to finalizing a 10 year contact with Comast that would more than double the budget for the city’s local access station.

Unfortunately, Comcast will pass the cost on to their customers which will fund the access station as well as the fiber-optic network that links municipal buildings. The question almost always arises why the cost for local channels are itemized as a pass through while other channels are not as cable companies to carry other channels, the cost of those channels are not visibly passed through. The franchise funding to support access channels and local INets is derived not from subscribers but by cable profits.

It is said that the two sides are working out the final details but are expected to reach an
agreement as soon as this week.

This is scene as good news for BevCam because they’re going to get a significant increase
in funding at time when community organizations most need affordable opportunities to reach out and connect with their constituents.

The city is negotiating to extend the network which will also allow access connections to
Lynch Park and the Beverly Farms library.

It was reported that Comcast has also agreed to provide a third channel for local
access, probably in the fourth year of the contract. BevCam now operates on
Channel 10 while Beverly High School provides programming on Channel 22.
BevCam currently has three full-time and two part-time employees. It broadcasts
government meetings and local events and airs programs produced by volunteers.

BevCam’s board of directors will decide how to spend the money in
the increased budget, whether it’s to hire more staff or buy new equipment.

By law, Comcast must provide funding for local access television in exchange
for the right to use city property to run its cables. Comcast is allowed to
pass on those costs to customers through the local franchise fee.

The contract between the city and Comcast addresses only local access. The city
has no control over cable rates or programming.

Both sides are working to complete the negotiations as soon as possible.

YES to CAP Act, NO to Verizon Bill

This one is for all of us.

The Community Access Preservation Act, HR 3745, was introduced October 7, 2009 by Representative Tammy Baldwin (WI-2). It is an a important piece of legislation for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access Centers. Across the nation you will find
interest in states, and cities resolving to ask congress to support the CAP ACT. In Massachusetts we want to keep franchise licensing under local control.

Why it’s a good idea to support the CAP ACT:

Unlike public broadcasting, WCCA TV 13 receives no federal, state or city appropriation of funds, but relies on franchise fees and support from local members and organizations.
However, franchise fees have been threatened, and in some cases eliminated, by changes in many states’ laws and resistance from cable and wireless providers.

The CAP Act responds to four immediate threats to our funding and those of public, educational and governmental cable channels around the country:
*
It amends the Communications Act so that franchise fees may be
used to support basic operational costs, including employee Salaries;
*
It reaffirms the principles of the Communications Act that cable
providers should not discriminate against us and should treat us
the same as other local broadcast channels;

*
It promotes the preservation of public, educational and
governmental channels like WCCA TV 13, and ongoing funding from cable providers for local programming like the dozens of WCCA
community videos, news, youth and educational media workshops, and public service messages, city council meetings, ; and

*
It amends the Communications Act to treat wireless providers the
same as cable providers where support and carriage of WCCA TV 13 is concerned.

While we ask you to support the CAP ACT we also ask to oppose a recent bill Verizon is lobbing for which may cause potential harm to public access channels.

Say no to Verizon’s bill.

Companies such as Verizon, AT&T, seem to be consistently lobbying to influence cable/telecommunications legislation in their favor. Most recently in North Carolina, Time Warner, has used it’s allies in the Legislature to introduced the most sweeping and intrusive anti-municipal network bill in quite some time.

Such proposals either abandoning local municipal franchise controls altogether by moving it the state level or by imposing unreasonable time lines upon municipalities that discourage community participation and proper ascertainment. Removing community voices
from the equation, serves no good purpose for the consumer or for those who depend upon and utilize public access channels. These are bills that also have led to the elimination of protection and assurances for Public Access PEG channels.

Local cable franchise license requirements can apply to any telecommunication company that provides video over their system. Benefits gained from an exchange of rights of way, include , consumer protection issues, fair distribution of service, senior discounts, address public safety issues, INET (Data networks), ensure proper provisions to sustain viable public access channels, a means to support, grass roots public access community
media. Many states that gave up local franchise controls ended up with no increase of competition and rates that still increased while they experienced the elimination of public access channels.

Companies use the slant that abandoning municipal controls would create competition, and or reduce rates. This is apparently NOT the case.

The National Association of Telecommunication Officers and Advisors (NATOA) conducted a survey and was disappointed to learn that for those states that have accommodated such anti municipal legislation here is what they found thus far:

* Rates have not decreased according to 98% of those surveyed.

* Incumbent basic rates have increased $1.12 for analog and $1.51 for digital

* Most new entrants do not market a Basic Service Tier nor report rates, which makes
consumer comparison shopping difficult at best.

* Consumer complaints remain high with 74% of respondents reporting the same level of
complaints, except as they relate to the availability of choice of provider

* The majority of LFAs reported that on incumbent systems, the number of PEG (Public,
Educational and Governmental) access channels has remained constant (97%) and that the
technical quality has remained the consistent (89%). PEG channel positions on new entrant
systems were reported as different from the incumbents by 39% with worse or poor
technical quality reported by 36% on new entrant systems. PEG funding was the same for
44% of the LFAs, whereas funding increased for 12% and actually decreased for 22% of
respondents.

* Overall, 82% of LFAs do not believe that state video legislation is having a positive
impact on their community; 90% believe that PEG programming is not being treated in an
equitable manner by new entrants; and 97% believe that customer service has not improved
under state supervision.

We ask legislators to stand tall on the people’s side of these matters.