Thursday, August 21, 2008

ACM: Will you support FEDERAL LEGISLATION Mandating Public Access?

Note: The ACM is the Alliance for Community Media,
a Public Access TV advocacy organization.

Date: Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 1:38 PM
Subject: ACM: Will you support FEDERAL LEGISLATION Mandating Public Access?
To: ACM Listserve
Cc: Rob McCausland

On Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 12:24 PM, Rob McCausland wrote:

City of Reno to sue Charter over public access channels

These kinds of skirmishes are happening all over the country, and is made
complex by the non-uniformity of state laws regarding public access.

The golden age of Public Access in the US occurred between 1969 and 1979
when the FCC (federal government) declared that Public Access was mandatory.

This all changed with the Midwest Video case, when the Supreme Court decided
the FCC did not have statutory authority to do so.


Last I heard, the big telecoms are RIGHT NOW lobbying Congress in order to
establish national franchises.

This seems like a perfect opportunity for groups like the ACM to
do their own lobbying to ensure that Congress explicity requires
minimum standards for Public Access, including bandwidth at
the lowest service tier (e.g., "Lifeline"), AND STUDIO PRODUCTION FACILITIES.

The state of Public Access in America now is ugly and bleak.

It seems the ONLY solution is national standards.

When will the ACM step up to the plate on this issue?


I am familiar with the position of ACM and their lobbying efforts,
e.g., as stated in Rob's blog:

According to this, the ACM is lobbying to support
> ... protecting local cable franchising authorities' ability to require PEG access channels

This is a recitation of the language of the 1984 Cable Act.

And let's not mince words here.
This is not about the ability of communities to require PEG.

Communities have ALWAYS established a contract with the
cable provider (the "franchise agreement"), in which they
have the ability to require any bloody thing they demand from the
cable provider. And if provider ABC can't provide the public access
channels which the community demands, then presumably the
community can put out bids to find provide XYZ which can.

Communities have always had the right to require access!
So this law (1984 Cable Act) and this language DOES NOTHING.
Well, it does something, but nothing GOOD for public access.

What it does is (indirectly)
establish the "right" of communities to PULL THE PLUG.

This just pushes the fight for public access
from the national level to the local level.

And believe me, when citizens in a community without public access
try to campaign to get public access, the cable companies come out
in full force, including using really devious methods of influence,
including propaganda campaigns, slander, and perjury (lies before
public bodies).

This is not conjecture. We saw all of this here in Binghamton NY.

As long as the ACM is waging a fight at the national level,
why not GO ALL THE WAY and ask for legislation which
MANDATES public access nationally

This would be a law with some teeth!

As long as we go along with the precident established by
the 1984 Cable Act which allows local communities to
"opt out", then the whole thing is going down the toilet.

e.g., Look at history! Look at what public access looked
like in America between 1969 and 1979 (WOW!!),
... vs. what has happened in the time after the 1984 Cable act

Why do we need a provision for communities to
opt out of this FREE SPEECH ZONE?

The benefits to communities of Public Access
are quite large, and the possible liabilities
(slander, nudity, profanity) are small and relatively
harmless. These incidents should be dealth with
on a case bases, AND NOT by establishing a policy
which allows communities to PULL THE PLUG
just because a small amount of offensive material
is present.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Bill Huston
Binghamton NY
607-321-7846 c

email: WilliamAHuston at gmail

From: Bill Huston <>

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