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.

1 comment:

  1. You mentioned HD for Public Access Channels. I am the Public Access Coordinator for Westport, a small town in Massachusetts. A couple of towns outside of Boston have an HD channel on the RCN cable system and one town, Shrewsbury, operates their own cable company.
    Do you see more cities and towns getting 16:9 channels within the next few years? We are a Charter system which might get changed to a Comcast system next year.