The future of Public Access TV

It would be nice to start this off by saying the future of public access television is a bright one and can only get better. That is not the case. For the many that enjoy public access tv, they may not know that their public channel is in jeapordy.

The legislation being promoted by Verizon would affect the way Public Access Television is run. The legislation would put all of PATV under a single federal contract. At the moment, under present law, all communities are entitled to a public access tv channel in addition to the normal cable channels that are sold to the consumer. The PATV channel is paid for by the cable TV station and the contract is under local control. This lends to the "community" of Public Access TV a.k.a. Community Access TV.

Now, in the process of legislation are 3 bills.

Senate Bill S.1504 - Introduced on Jul 27, 2005 this bill would, in relation to Public Access TV, take away the communities right as it stands now, to have public access television.

"...except as provided in this Act, no Federal, State, or local government shall have authorityto require any facilities-based communications service provider to provide third parties with access to its facilities"

This bill removes the video franchise requirement that helps fund your public access tv.

the "Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act" (S.1504), proposed by Senators Ensign (R-Nevada) and McCain (R-Arizona), and Senate Bill S.1349 and House Bill H.R.3146 - known together as the "Video Choice Act of 2005" - would end or severely limit the operation of public, educational and governmental access television (PEG TV) nationwide. At the moment companies that use public rights-of-way are required to provide community access as part of the deal. Under the BICCA, local companies that use these rights-of-way would no longer be required to provide PEG channels to the community.

Local governements will still collect the fees that are paid for using these rights-of-way known as franchise fees.

Senate Bill S. 1349 in short ends the requirement of cable companies to enter into a franchise. Here is Section 662 (a) of S. 1349: "Redundant Franchises Prohibited- Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, no competitive video services provider may be required, whether pursuant to section 621 or to any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, to obtain a franchise in order to provide any video programming, interactive on-demand services, other programming services, or any other video services in any area where such provider has any right, permission, or authority to access public rights-of-way independent of any cable franchise obtained pursuant to section 621 or pursuant to any other Federal, State, or local law."

Its this franchise that allows us to have Public Access TV. Public Access TV is what gives you and I a voice in our community and out world. So if this bill is passed into law, the cable companies can abandon their requirement to provide community access TV.

H.R. 3146 a.k.a. the "Video Choice Act". This bill, under SEC. 802. REGULATORY RELIEF, says basically the same thing that S. 1349 says.

Sources for information on "Saving Public Access TV

the Manhattan Neighborhood Network

Citizen TV Net

The Alliance for Community Media

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