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Is our local cable franchise threatened by Congress?

Original post made by Natalie Fisher, Midtown, on Jun 11, 2006

This is a news item I picked up.

"House Passes Controversial Telecom Bill

Meanwhile in the House, lawmakers passed the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act, known as the COPE bill. The controversial telecommunications legislation would permit phone and cable companies to operate Internet and other digital communications service as private networks, free of policy safeguards or governmental oversight. The bill would effectively end what is known as "net neutrality" which is the concept that that everyone, everywhere, should have free, universal and non-discriminatory access to the Internet. The bill would also cut back the obligation of cable TV companies to devote channels to public access and fund the facilities to run them. And the COPE bill would replace local cable franchises with national franchises."

I have no idea what is meant by "national franchises" but it could mean that Palo Alto would lose control over the Comcast franchise and the public and government access channels would no longer be required.
We might lose them.

I have the impression that the Senate will take up this issue as early as next week.

Comments (2)

Like this comment
Posted by Jeff Hoel
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2006 at 5:32 pm

"Network neutrality" doesn't mean Internet access would be free or universal, but it does mean that it would be non-discriminatory. So far, in its consideration of telecom legislation this year, Congress has voted against including a network neutrality requirement. Representative Anna Eshoo offered an amendment to protect network neutrality, but it was defeated.

If Congress replaces local franchises with national franchises, Palo Alto would indeed lose control over franchising any TV providers, including Comcast and AT&T. How many PEG channels TV providers had to provide would be up to the feds.

The California Legislature is considering a bill, AB 2987, that would replace local franchises with statewide franchises. If it were to pass, Palo Alto would lose control over franchising any TV providers, including Comcast and AT&T. How many PEG channels TV providers had to provide would be up to the state. Assemblymember Ira Ruskin and Senator Joe Simitian have both voted for this bill. If you wish they hadn't, please let them know.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2006 at 5:40 pm

The telecomm giants say that net neutrality would choke-off innovation. The truth is that, if they get their way, we'll go back to the bad-old days of near monopoly and no impetus for innovation.

Remember when AT&T controlled everything and the only company that made legal phones was the AT&T-owned Western Electric? In those days it was even illegal to hook-up an answering machine to your phone because AT&T didn't make one.

Eventually, AT&T was broken-up and real innovation started. Now, the so-called "Baby Bells" are reassembling and regaining political power.

The current innovations happen BECAUSE OF net neutrality.

This issue is vital and very few people are even aware of it.

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