Sub-Committee Hears Legislation That Could Dismantle Community Access TV

The driving force behind this legislation is the phone companies' desire to provide Internet based broadband video service without having to negotiate franchises with local municipalities. Sponsors of the legislation say it will help consumers by increasing marketplace competition and thereby lowering cable TV subscription rates. However at the November 9th hearings Gene Kimmelman, of the Consumers Union, stated the bill "fails to deliver the polices necessary to ensure that consumers will receive meaningful growth in price competition"... the "American consumer is being asked to give up a great deal in exchange for another promise of competition at some distant point in the future. Consumers have had their pockets picked too many times to be fooled again".

Among the things the public is being asked to give up is robust local-focus community TV. The framework for Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) TV was put in place during the late 1960s and early 1970s on the principal that local communities should have an opportunity to produce and air programming that would reflect the unique character and concerns of those communities. Today in thousands of communities large and small PEG TV is an essential part of the community. Public Access TV offers a range of viewpoints and expressions unseen anywhere else in the mass media. Governmental TV keeps citizens informed about local elections and other important local political issues. And Educational TV provides essential programming for school-age youth, for colleges, libraries and adult learners.


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