A coalition of US cities are seeking a stay on the FCC's new video franchising rules. The new rules would streamline the franchising approval process, giving cities a 90-day shot clock to approve or deny new entrants into their cable markets. The coalition members worry that the changes will, “severely restrict the ability of local governments to protect their citizens, rights-of-way, community channels, and public safety networks.”
Public Knowledge has repeatedly sided with municipalities over the FCC on this issue.
A Senate appropriations subcommittee has approved $420 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the fiscal year 2010. According to the CPB, that includes $26 million for the public radio interconnection system and nearly $30 million for digital conversion. This is the first increase in funding for the CPB in four years.
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has come out in favor of open access requirements for the winner of the pending 700 MHz auction. If the commission adopts open access requirements, the winner of the spectrum will have to lease their network to competitors in order to build new wireless services:
“We need to identify meaningful spectrum on which to establish an open-access environment,” Adelstein told Reuters, expanding on remarks he made earlier at a telecommunications industry conference. “This will open these key airwaves to badly needed competition.
President Bush will nominate sitting FCC commissioner Deborah Tate for another five-year term. According to the Jackson Sun, Ms. Tate “cruised through” her last confirmation.
The Illinois state legislature has passed a video franchising bill that will allow AT&T to deploy it's U-Verse broadband and IPTV services and bypass the approval processes of each municipality:
The legislation will allow AT&T to go ahead with deployments without negotiating local franchise agreements, but the company will be forced to offer its services in low-income neighborhoods. By way of example, 40 percent of homes passed by U-Verse within the city limits of would have to be in lower-income areas.
Meanwhile public momentum is building behind the New York Telecommunications Act. Bill Hammond of the NY Daily News writes:
“But the cable industry, desperate to keep its captive audience, is using all of its considerable influence in Albany to block reform. Unless Gov. Spitzer intervenes, consumers could well lose this battle – and be forced to keep paying through the nose for lousy service.”
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