Mike Weisman on Mon, 28 Apr 2003 13:23:19 +0200 (CEST)

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Glad you asked!

Republican Gov. Pataki and his Public Service Commission (an oxymoron if
there ever was one), acting at the behest of the large cable companies, are
gutting the limited rights to public technology infrastructure that we have
under current law. 

New York has good laws on the books that provide a public a tiny little bit
of 'commons', and little bit of public infrastructure so we can make our
little media and have a least a tiny chance of getting our information out.
The PSC has proposed getting rid of it.  Their allies include the small,
politically conservative towns of upstate NY, which would like to put a lid
on the political and cultural programming that has made such an important
impact in those areas.

>From Binghamton NY, below I have copied a list of the changes proposed by
the NY PSC.  Its a nice concise distillation.  The proposed changes can be
downloaded from the NY PSC web site.

IN NEW YORK!  I am sending it out broadly, because everyone needs to be
aware of the threats elsewhere: they will land on your own doorstep soon
enough.  This is a national effort from the cable companies.  It probably
won't  help for people from Seattle to complain to the NY PSC, but local
folks should be mobilizing like there is no tomorrow to stop the roll back
of what little we have.

Mike Weisman


URGENT: Send this to any Cable TV or New York progressive
listservers or email lists ASAP.

"A Grab Bag Giveaway to the Cable Industry"
   -- Thomas Hillgardner, esq.

"A Back Door Attack Upon Public Access"
  -- David Bronston, Attorney for Manhattan Neighborhood Network

This is a reminder of the public hearings called by the NY Public Service
Commission concerning the proposed rule changes in the regulation of
the cable tv industry in New York State.  It will be held at the Broome
County Library, 185 Court Street, Binghamton, NY, 5-7 PM.

Library info: http://www.bclibrary.info  607-778-6400

These rules were created by the PSC and the cable industry,
with no input from the public.

If approved, these rules will have grave consequences to cable
subscribers, and users of Public Access in New York State.

Here is a brief summary of my findings. (I am not a lawyer, and
my assertions should be verfied). These new rules:

1) explicitly allows for pre-emption of more stringant local or
state laws by less stringent federal laws in a way that may circumvent
the courts

2) limits public participation in franchise renewals,

3) allow for editorial control of Public Access by both cable provider
and the municipality,

4) take authority of complaint investigation from the NY
PSC and seemingly gives it to the cable companies themselves,

5) It extends the loss of local control of cable programming, and
fee regulation,

6) It removes the requirement for dedicated Public Access and
Government/Educational (PEG) access channels, and allows for a shared
and allows cable company to put additional Public Access channels on
service tiers higher than basic,

This effectively takes the 1974 PEG requirements of 2 channels
in a 21 channel network (10% for non-commercial use), to 1 channel in
systems that are today providing 200 channels (0.5% for non-commercial use).

7) Is filled with "level playing field" (pull down) provisions, which
will practically make it impossible for municipalities to increase
regulation in competitive areas or open systems

8) Removes 10 year max franchise term, and replaces it with 15, and makes
it effective "from date of renewal". This procedure can take 5 years,
thus, a franchisee may get an actual 20 year franchise!

Important info on these rule changes (including links to the 99 page PDF
is here: http://www.binghamtonpublicaccess.org/story/2003/4/11/19275/0624

(My analysis of these rules appears as comment #2 on this story)

Bill Huston

Please respond to:
Mike Weisman

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