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.