osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,
osewalrus
osewalrus

For My Friends in MD

I'm passing this action alert with regard to proposed statewide video franchising bill in MD. Not only is it bad for consumers and for local access television (which is actually pretty good around here), but it will likely cost the state millions as Comcast and VZ get to move from the utility tax rate (a flat 5% of revenue fee for use of the public right of way) to the standard business tax rate.

Please let people know we need help in MD, see attached, statewide
franchising bill. There will be a hearing tomorrow at the house building in
Annapolis at 1p.

The hearing is set for Thursday at 1p.m. in the Ways and Means Committee.
Please call your delegates and senators asap to say you oppose HB 1182,
Statewide Cable Franchising.

We need producers and activists to show up for the hearing. We want to
have a crowd that spills out into the halls. We are checking to see if
cameras will be allowed in the hearing room and will let you know as soon as
we find out.

Here again are the talking points and contact points, please feel free to
email me with any questions. Bunnie Riedel

HOUSE BILL 1182: BAD FOR MARYLAND,
BAD FOR CONSUMERS, BAD FOR PEG

Delegate Sheila Hixson (District 20) introduced House Bill 1182, a bill that
will eliminate local cable franchising, franchise fees and Public,
Educational and Government (PEG) access channels and facilities. This free
ride for the cable companies will hurt cities and counties across Maryland
at a time when they least can afford it. House Bill 1182 is a bold grab by
state government to pre-empt local government authority to negotiate cable
franchise contracts that ensure customer service, proper use of public
rights of way and the collection of franchise fees.

House Bill 1182 is a bad idea for Maryland and its citizens, it must be
stopped!

Ø HOUSE BILL 1182 ELIMINATES LOCAL GOVERNMENT ABILITY TO COLLECT
FRANCHISE FEES
Local governments will no longer be able to directly collect
franchise fees in exchange for cable operators using public rights of
way. That means they stand to lose millions of dollars in these fees.
Montgomery, Howard, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel combined, will lose
almost $28 million a year in revenue. Baltimore City will lose
almost $6 million in franchise fees. This comes at a time when Maryland
counties and cities can least afford loss of revenue.

Ø HOUSE BILL 1182 MOVES FRANCHISING TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Local control of cable franchising is eliminated and taken over by the
Public Service Commission which has no experience in cable franchising.
Additionally, the bill does not define how the PSC should franchise and what
requirements they should enact. Nor does the bill require the PSC to
collect a definitive franchise fee, so the PSC could collect franchise fees
or they could waive those fees. Even if the PSC did collect a 5% franchise
fee allowed by federal law, the definition for gross receipts is so vague,
there would be a loss of 25% to 30% in those fees immediately.

Ø HOUSE BILL 1182 HAS NO CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS, NO REQUIREMENT
FOR BUILDOUT AND NO PROVISION FOR LOCAL MANAGEMENT OF RIGHTS OF WAY
Cable operators have been notorious for providing bad service and this bill
will allow them to get away with it because there are no customer service
standards in this bill. That means consumers will be at the mercy of the
cable operators when it comes to getting problems fixed or bills credited.
In addition, there are no “build-out” requirements in HB 1182, which means
new video competitors don’t have to serve an entire community, they can
redline at will and existing cable operators could actually pull out of
neighborhoods they find less profitable. Local government will no longer
have a say in the management of their streets or sidewalks, the important
management of public rights of way.


Ø PUBLIC, EDUCATIONAL AND GOVERNMENT (PEG) ACCESS TELEVISION WILL BE
ELIMINATED
There are no requirements in this bill for PEG access television, in fact,
PEG is not mentioned at all. Maryland is fortunate to have many thriving
PEG television stations, these stations bring residents city and county
council meetings, nonprofit programming, health and wellness information,
school district and college programming, and individual programming. It has
taken many years for Maryland cities and counties to develop these local
media resources, but with the stroke of a pen, Marylanders will lose PEG
access television.

TAKE ACTION NOW TO TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES ON THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
TO STOP HOUSE BILL 1182 IN ITS TRACKS!

IT’S BAD FOR OUR CITIES AND COUNTIES. IT’S BAD FOR CONSUMERS.
IT’S BAD FOR PEG ACCESS TELEVISION.


CALL YOUR DELEGATES TODAY!

1-800-492-7122


WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE

Chair: Sheila E. Hixson

Vice Chair: Ann Marie Doory

Joseph R. Bartlett Anne R. Kaiser
Kumar P. Barve Peter F. Murphy
Joseph C. Boteler III LeRoy E. Myers, Jr.
Jon S. Cardin John A. Olszewski, Jr.
D. Page Elmore Craig L. Rice
C. William Frick Justin D. Ross
Ron George Christopher B. Shank
James W. Gilchrist Melvin L. Stukes
Carolyn J. B. Howard Frank S. Turner
Jolene Ivey Jay Walker


Riedel Communications
8775 Centre Park Drive #255
Columbia, MD 21045
410-992-4976

www.riedelcommunications.com

Telecommunications Blog
www.riedelcommunications.blogspot.com

Nonprofit Blog
www.nonprofitconversation.blogspot.com
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