July 1, 2015

Governor Rauner signs the Illinois Cable Act Renewal

Governor Rauner has signed SB 96, a renewal of the Illinois Cable and Video Competition Act of 2007. This bill will ensure two years of funding from state cable providers for Chicago's public access station CAN TV, until the bill sunsets in 2017. SB 96 will require all state cable providers to pay the 1% PEG fee – 2/3rds of which goes to CAN TV and 1/3rd to the City of Chicago. 

Though this bill did ensure funding, it has not addressed AT&T's unequal treatment of public access channels on the Uverse cable system. 2017 is the next date on the horizon for CMA, when the bill is up for renewal once again and the bill can be amended to provide for fair treatment of the public's channels.


June 1, 2015

Illinois General Assembly Passes Bill Ensuring 1% PEG Fee for 2 Years

News from Springfield: on May 31 the Illinois State Senate passed SB 96 which amended the Illinois Cable and Video Competition Act of 2007. 

Once signed by the governor, the bill will ensure that all state cable providers pay the 1% PEG fee – 2/3rds of which goes to CAN TV and 1/3rd to the City of Chicago and will be in effect for two years. 

CMA members have been working on this issue for some time, first on Comcast’s local renewal and then late last year when we met with the IL Attorney General to discuss Comcast’s decision to file for a state franchise. We stressed to the AG the importance that public channels be treated the same as the broadcast channels in regards to HD and other evolving technologies. 

The passage of this bill is a long awaited conclusion to months of CMA’s advocacy for fair funding of the public’s channels at CAN TV. Once the governor signs the bill, CAN TV will continue to be fairly funded by three of Illinois' cable providers including Comcast, the largest cable provider in the City of Chicago, into 2017.


December 30, 2014

CMA gears up for Illinois Cable Law sunset

The Cable and Video Competition Act of 2007 (Illinois’ cable law) expires in 2015 and CMA members are turning their attention to Springfield. At a recent meeting with representatives of Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, CMA stressed the importance of extending public benefits as part of renewal terms for companies that operate under state law.

CMA had representatives at the meeting from NAACP West, Toys for Tots, Washington Park Advisory Council, Free Spirit Media, as well as independent filmmakers and community leaders. Members itemized concerns with state cable law, including the potential for it to weaken public benefits that were hard won at the local level. The importance of customer service protections for moderate and low income people was particularly noted.

CMA reps also pointed to the large number of people that benefit from use of CAN TV, Chicago’s local public access facility, and emphasized the importance of state law protecting the funding of CAN TV's five channels. CMA reps made clear their objection to any industry attempt to prevent equality for those channels as technology continues to evolve.

Finally, CMA reps stressed the importance of a longer term for the state cable franchise renewal than the short two-years granted previously by the legislature. AT&T and Comcast bankroll an army of lobbyists to push their agenda in Springfield. But members of the legislature and the Attorney General are there to look out for the public’s interests. CMA representatives urged the strengthening of the law, and creation of greater stability with a longer term.

CMA members sought support for the following conditions as part of 2015 state cable franchise renewal:

  • No change in the funding for Chicago of an unrestricted 1% PEG fee.
  • Technical parity for public access channels that meets the equivalency standards of the law, such as being simulcast on HD and SD like local broadcast channels. 
  • Strong monitoring and enforcement of customer service and public access channel requirements.
  • A longer term to ensure greater stability.


December 12, 2014

Robbie Smith Recognized for Ongoing Support of CAN TV and Media Access!

Congratulations to Robbie Smith, who has spent countless hours helping organize and inform CMA members.  Robbie was recognized at the December 10, 2014 annual CAN TV board of director’s meeting for over 20 years of involvement with CAN TV.  The board noted Robbie’s many “hats” as a former board member, prolific producer, consultant, organizer and advocate.  

In informing CMA members about the recognition, Robbie said the CAN TV board acknowledged “our collective efforts to help protect the future of CAN TV.  I accepted the honor not just for myself, but on behalf of all of us who did something to make a difference.”


November 23, 2014

City Fixes Local Ordinance for Support of Public Channels

On November 19, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that ensures CAN TV will not be deprived of funding from companies that get state franchises.  The current ordinance was flawed.  While it ensured CAN TV would get the 1% public access fee from AT&T, it routed funds from all future state franchise companies to the City.  With Comcast’s announcement that it planned to abandon its negotiations with the City and opt into a state franchise, it became imperative that this disparity be corrected.  

The corrected ordinance now states that CAN TV will get direct payment of 2/3rds of the 1% fee for public access allocated under state law.  That applies across the board for all companies, and brings state cable payments into line with the RCN local franchise.  CMA members applaud the City Council for taking this important step to ensure the future stability of CAN TV.