June 13, 2014

Protect the public’s channels as a condition of the Comcast merger

Since the inception of cable in this country, the federal government has required cable companies to be responsive to the needs of the local community. The cable industry profits from use of public infrastructure to deliver its services. In exchange for that, Chicago and other cities require those companies to support public access television channels and services like those offered by CAN TV.

But as Comcast renews its franchises, it is attempting to get out of its public obligations. Many cities served by Comcast report closures and downgrades of public access channels and services, most recently in Skokie, Illinois. And in Chicago, Comcast has yet to commit to meet the CMA’s critical concerns for support of the public’s channels.

Now Comcast wants to increase its market dominance nationally by taking over Time Warner in a $45 billion dollar merger. CMA members recently wrote to a number of national organizations that supported the Comcast/NBCU merger, addressing the importance of protections for public access channels and services as part of the Comcast/Time Warner. Comcast wants people to believe the merger is a winner. But the public can end up the loser.

CMA recommends the Comcast’s Time Warner merger be conditioned on:

1. Direct and unrestricted funding to preserve the independence of local public access television channels and services.

2. Funding and capacity agreements that allow for local public access television channels to grow and evolve as cable grows and evolves.

3. Technological equality for local public access television channels to keep the public’s channels equivalent to broadcast channels in signal quality, functionality, and accessibility.

No comments:

Post a Comment