April 30, 2012


We had to sit upstairs so trust us, that little blip is Mayor Rahm presiding over the approval vote for the RCN agreement on April 24th. The agreement, which was hard fought for by many groups, including the CMA, is one of the best in the country, and after 15 years of flat funding and budget deficits and and dark cloud of the future looming, now one of, if not the, best cable access centers on earth has a cushion of future funding from one of the franchisees. It is a fair, good deal that hopefully will provide a model for future deals with WOW, AT&T, & the big one, Comcast. Thanks City Council and RCN, you cam through for the people on this one, and the people will say thank you by using CAN-TV to make our voices heard and our visions realized for years to come!

April 19, 2012

Good News for CAN TV as City Set to Approve Strong RCN Deal

Members of CMA, IPN and CAN TV staff gather outside Council Chambers after Monday's Finance Committee meeting
It was nothing but good news and love for cable access in Chicago at Monday's Chicago City Council's Finance Committee. Members of the CMA were in the gallery, along with many CAN TV producers (including members of the I.P.N. - the Independent Producers Network) as well as CAN TV staff, management and board members. After approving a settlement for some kind of false arrest case the chair (Alderman Burke) moved on to our issues, which were the approval of the RCN contract (an issue that CMA first took on upon our formation in 2010), and the end of the Cable Commission (a budget cutting move). Commissioner Krimbel, Deputy Commissioner McVane, and Jeff Levine, a City attorney, presented the new contract and the changes to the Aldermen. Commissioner Krimbel articulated the CMA's positions without prompting, stating that WOW and Comcast should consider the cable access provisions in the RCN contract as the minimum standard,  promising regular public meetings to replace the Cable Commission meetings, and boldly stating that she saw herself and CAN TV as "partners" in a fight against cable companies for fair public funding.

After Burke went on a tangent about accessing an entertainment tax upon satellite TV providers, the floor was opened up to comments and the love that the Alderman rained down on CAN TV was awesome. Alderman Polk spoke eloquently about our issues, Alderman Laurino suggested that neighborhood meetings on cable issues be considered, Alderman Dowell commended RCN and challenged the other cable operators to make sure things go this smoothly, and Alderman Burnett sent a lot of love to CAN TV (and plugged his TV show). Representatives of RCN were then called, and Alderman Beal grilled them about why this took so long, and challenged them to change the perception that they were against public access television, and Alderman Cochran inquired about minority-owned contractor compliance. Then Barbara Popovic and Michael Manuel from the CAN TV board took the floor and spoke in positive terms about the outcome. Finally, Burke acknowledged Gordon Quinn and Jake Austen of the Committee for Media Access. Quinn and Austen were scheduled to make public comment, but that became moot when all of our concerns were articulated beyond our expectations by the council members and Commissioner. The "ayes" then had it, and the future of public access in television became a little brighter for the next few years, at least. Afterwards allies of access met in the hallway where CAN TV recorded comments by IPN and CMA members, as well as glowing comments from both Commissioner Krimbel and RCN's General Manager Tom McKay (who called this "a great deal for RCN, the City, and CAN TV").

The contract was to be approved in a vote on Wednesday, but some maneuvering involving Emanuel's plans to enlist private investment in public projects delayed all Finance Committee votes until next week (CMA member Grady Davis was in attendance Wednesday).

Overall, very positive news for CAN TV, the CMA and the voice of the public in Chicago. We will report on next week's expected approval.


April 13, 2012


L-R: Phyllis Logan, Jeff McCarter, Commissioner Rosemary Krimbel, Deputy Commissioner Jim McVane, Carole J. Herhold, Leroy Jones, Velma Ringo, Jake Austen
In advance of next week's vote on the new RCN contract CMA met last Wednesday with Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Rosemary Krimbel, Deputy Commissioner Jim McVane, and Jen Lipford, a young woman from the information office who was documenting the meeting and giving input. Representing the Committee for Media Access were Jeff McCarter, Leroy Jones, Phyllis Logan, Jake Austen, Carole J. Herhold, and Velma Ringo.
The tone of the meeting was very positive. After introducing ourselves and giving a summary of our group’s history of activism, action, and influence (particularly in regards to RCN), Ms. Krimbel identified herself as a supporter of public access television and a guilty pleasure fan of Dale Chapman’s access show “We’re Geniuses in France.” We expressed concern about the future Comcast contract and let her know that although we were not opposed to the reforms that will dissolve the Cable Board, we had concerns about transparency with the loss of televised meetings and opportunities for public comment.
Deputy Commissioner McVane promised that by the end of this month he would set a schedule of quarterly hearings that would take place in the hearing room on the 8th floor of City Hall. We hold out hope he and Ms. Krimbel will consider bi-monthly meetings as a valuable forum for public comment. These meetings will not be videotaped or televised by MUTV (the City’s channel) but we are welcome to tape them and cablecast them on CAN TV.
We were told that work on renegotiating the Comcast contracts that expire in 2014 and 2015  would begin after next week’s RCN contract signing. The only difference of opinion we seem to have with the Commissioner is that she seemed to imply an optimistic belief that the Mayor’s close relationship with Comcast’s David Cohen was a good thing as it will help speed along negotiations, which truly would be a good thing from our perspective if Mayor Emmanuel was so committed to CAN TV that he insisted that it was non-negotiable. Otherwise, having connections (including many generous donations) with a company that could increase profits by cutting out the public (as has been done many places across the country) is worrisome.
That said, the tone, responsiveness and dialogue of this meeting were positive and in the future we look forward to working, with and not against, the City of Chicago to make sure the public has a voice on cable TV in our great town.


April 4, 2012


This month the Chicago City Council has two important sessions that will help determine the future of the public's access to the airwaves. On April 16th the FInance Committee will meet and on April 18 a City Council meeting will be held, and two important issues are being discussed. The contract with cable provider RCN is going to committee, and the agreement the company and the City of Chicago have come up with is fair to CAN TV (longtime CMA members will recall our meetings with RCN in our group's earliest days). We applaud everyone who helped make this possible, and we encourage all Aldermen to make sure this goes through as planned, and to send a strong message to all other cable companies to keep the public in mind when drafting future contracts with Chicago. Also, there will be a proposal to end the Cable Commission, which concerns us slightly, mainly because the televised meetings and opportunities for public interaction were good for transparancy. We hope these concerns will be addressed.
The public is welcome to view and testify at these meetings. They both take place around 10am at City Hall, 121 N. Lasalle, 2nd Floor.