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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« Again, Lying Is the Culture War Divide | Main | HOW TO SUPPORT "THE TROOPS": Stanley I. Kutler »

April 25, 2007


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Because the municipalities are the only actors in this drama who have altruistic motives?

Be honest, Orton. Everyone in this is out to make money - especially the municipalities. They lashed out because they saw that the gravy train was about to be cut off.

And do you honestly believe that when people have service issues, they call town hall and not the cable provider?

How can I get an address in Fantasyland?

Barry Orton

Ask any Village clerk if they get calls about cable problems. When people have service problems, they first call the provider, and then, when they can't get through or don't get satisfaction, they complain to Village Hall. It's not my belief, it a fact.

Fantasyland is that place where "marketplace forces" somehow save consumers millions when the legislature allows an additional provider to resell the same overpriced ESPN at similar prices.

Fantasyland is where "TV4us" can buy millions of dollars of advertising and pretend it is a grassroots consumer organization instead of an AT&T corporate sock puppet.

And it's where legislators can take AT&T's money and claim that the process was "fair and thorough' and that the money had no influence on their votes.

Sounds as if you are already there, "Publius."

John Foust

There's more than a few fantasies in this bill... Its proponents claim monopolies exist, then talk about satellite - a simple alternative available in every city and rural burg. It's already arguably cheaper than wired services. They talk about monopolies, but there's no exclusivity in any of the existing franchise cities. Anyone is free to enter the market - just ask for a franchise.

They whined about the effort involved in negotiating franchise agreements, but ignore the reality that each contract is 99% similar to the last, they're renewed only every decade or so in most places, and that cities are required to offer the same terms to every comer. They whined about having to do this in 1,850 cities/towns/villages in Wisconsin, but ignored the reality that there are only 300 franchises in the state now, and that signing a dozen would cover most of the market.

Yes, cities love franchise revenue. It's effectively a local tax paid by consumers who buy services delivered on wires in the public right-of-way. The rate was set by your local elected officials. Go talk to them. They are perfectly free to reduce it to zero percent. For all the talk about this money, the bill doesn't touch this tax. If it had, the cities would've really screamed.

Instead, the cities screamed the loudest about the bill's elimination of local control over the placement of equipment in the right-of-way. If three video providers wanted to put fridge-sized boxes on the grass between your front lawn and the street, neither you, City Hall or Madison could do anything about it.

The bill does prohibit separate public access (PEG) fees, though. The bill has a half-dozen loopholes to let new providers never carry existing PEG channels. Proponents of the bill must not see any value in PEG channels. There's no value in an informed electorate?

Laura Unger

You might want to check out some of the particulars of the NY State "Omnibus Telecommunications Reform Act of 2007 (A.3980A)." It allows statewide cable franchising but has these protections:

Guarantees that local governments receive the maximum 5% share of cable television gross revenues allowed by the FCC as a condition of a statewide video franchise.

Protects, enhances and creates new Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) cable channels. These are the Public Access Channels which localities make available to community organizations for public interest use. A.3980A also protects and increases funding from cable TV revenues for the PEG channels, even above the 5% FCC maximum municipalities can receive from general revenues from the statewide franchise.

Preserves municipal control over rights of way and other police powers.

It also requires the extensive build-out of high-speed internet as a condition of a statewide cable franchise.

I think this can be a real model for other states. There is currently some discussion going on about this bill at

Lynn Mellenthin

Are the PEG channels really important to very many viewers. I wonder what the usage rate is. I suspect it's extremely low. I suspect it's mainly important to a very small number of people. Yet everyone else is required to pay for it. Couldn't some way be figured to only have the cost be born by those that want it. It seems to be such a big issue in this debate. It's the classic case of " I want something and I want you to pay for it" - Unfortunately this is the American way of things and everyone shares some of the blame. Give me cable TV but put that big cable distribution box in my neighbors yard not mine.

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