Congress is fast-tracking a bill that would severely cut back on the obligation of cable TV companies to devote channels to public access and fund the facilities to run them. If you care at all about preserving these precious community outlets, go immediately to SaveAccess.Org for the latest information on the bill and how you can stop it.
Why is Congress trying to sabotage public access? Because telephone companies are getting into the business of providing TV services and they do not want to be bound by the same local franchising agreements that obligate cable TV companies. Under the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006, the phone companies would be able to establish national franchises, bypassing the local franchising process entirely.
Proponents of the bill argue it will create competition and bring the cost of a TV feed down. But consumer groups say that it will just terminate all the negotiating power of local communities over rates and services. While you can now complain to a New York-based company when your cable service goes on the blink, in the brave new world envisioned by the COPE bill there is no telling how your problem will be resolved.
Across the nation, this will be the end of what is called PEG TV—public access TV, educational access TV that allows for long-distance learning in isolated regions of the country, and governmental access TV that cablecasts local public hearings and meetings.
The COPE bill also contains two other sinister provisions. One ends “Net Neutrality” and allows Internet service providers like AOL to prioritize e-mails based on the sender’s willingness to pay. Another lets cable TV providers redline low-income communities that they believe would be less profitable to serve.
Read the full article here at FreePress.Net!
Go to SaveAccess.Org to find out what you can do to help!