August 19, 2014

CMA Member Dave Kraft testifies at August Cable Compliance Review

On August 13 the City held its quarterly Cable Compliance Review, with representatives from Comcast, RCN, CAN TV, the Committee for Media Access and City officials present. CMA Member Dave Kraft took the opportunity to testify about CMA’s concerns over Comcast’s recent decision to stop negotiating its franchise renewal with the City and instead opt for a state cable franchise. CMA members are very concerned about the City losing its authority over cable, and want the City to convene public hearings so we can ask questions and understand what Comcast’s move to a state franchise will mean for city residents, cable customers, and for the future of CAN TV. Residents can now go to the City when there are problems, but that will no longer be true for Comcast once it is under state authority.


August 10, 2014

CMA Formally Requests Public Hearings

This week, CMA sent letters to the Aldermen, Mayor Emanuel, BACP Commissioner Guerra Lapacek, and Comcast calling for public hearings on Comcast’s decision to move to a state cable franchise.

The letter to the Aldermen states, 

Comcast has now informed us, through one of our members, that instead of finalizing its franchise renewal with the City of Chicago, it has decided to apply for a state cable franchise.  As part of that, Comcast states it intends to fully fund CAN TV. We want to believe Comcast’s assurances, but we don’t see why Comcast is refusing to provide that support through a franchise with the City of Chicago. 

The City has regulated cable since the 1980s, when cable companies set up their business using public land. The City’s local cable franchises have prevented redlining, protected consumers, and ensured public participation through support of facilities and channels operated by CAN TV. Comcast will continue to profit from use of public land under state law, but the City of Chicago will lose its authority over cable.  

Public hearings will give Comcast an opportunity to make its case publicly as to how its move to a state franchise benefits Chicago. The public deserves to know what it means for local residents, cable customers, and for the future of CAN TV. We hope that Comcast will cooperate with City officials in bringing about public hearings.


August 6, 2014

CMA Submits FCC Filing Regarding Comcast merger

Today CMA submitted a formal filing of the letters it sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the four FCC Commissioners, Ajit Pai, Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O’Rielly. The letters detail concerns over the lack of protective language for PEG Access in Comcast’s merger documents.

Here is an excerpt from the letter which lists the conditions CMA is urging the FCC to seek from Comcast before approving its merger.

To protect public access channels throughout the country in communities that Comcast serves, we strongly recommend that you require Comcast to meet these three conditions for approval of its merger with Time Warner:
  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.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.


August 1, 2014

Major Civil Rights Organizations Sell Out on Net Neutrality

On July 15, the FCC closed its comment period on open internet rules – or “net neutrality” – but not before a slew of major civil rights organizations filed documents against net neutrality and Title II reclassification of broadband service.
In May CMA wrote many of these groups urging them to seek protections for PEG Access channels as part of the Comcast-Time Warner merger proceeding.  Any group concerned about speech as a civil right has an important public obligation to protect community media channels and resources.

The filings reveal a who’s who of civil rights groups willing to shill on behalf of the telecom industry. One filing lists prominent civil rights groups NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Urban League, the National Council on Black Civil Participation and the National Action Network. The other features the Council of Korean Americans, the Japanese American Citizens League, the National Black Farmers Association, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, the Latino Coalition, and many more.

Of course, the groups listed on these filings do not speak for all communities of color on telecom policy, and there are civil rights groups out there that actually support net neutrality, including Color of Change and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Joseph Torres with Free Press told VICE that communities of color believe a free and open Internet is essential in the digital age, especially when most non-whites do not own radio stations, broadcast outlets or other forms of mass media. “Protecting real net neutrality is critical for people of color because an open Internet gives us the opportunity to speak for ourselves without having to ask corporate gatekeepers for permission,” Torres says.