HB 699, the state-wide cable franchise bill, will be heard tomorrow in the Senate Commerce Committee tomorrow at 9:30.
It’s bad law and deserves to be voted down there. Concerned citizens can still contact the members of the committee; the commerce committee maintains a page providing links to the members’ data.
At the most basic level it’s bad because it takes local control and local sovereignty and transfers it to the state level because it would be more convenient (that is, more profitable) to a single large corporation if local governments could be neutered. Local control threatens the size of BellSouth’s profits because local people normally require BellSouth/AT&T to offer cable TV services to everyone in exchange for renting the community rights-of-way to the corporation. BellSouth feels like it would make more money if it could only offer it’s service to the wealthiest neighborhoods–and, not coincidentally, they could at the same time stick Cable with the more expensive-to-serve customers. So they go to the state legislature to enhance their bottom line.
Enhancing BellSouth’s (soon to be AT&T) profits is not the legislature’s job.
And it’s certainly not the legislature’s job to pass laws that impoverish local communities. But that is exactly what the legislature is considering according to local government organizations across the state. They say that, contrary to what BellSouth/AT&T lobbyists are claiming, BellSouth’s bill leaves a loophole for the company to escape paying any fees to local governments. That would leave a gaping hole in many communities’ income.
The bill has already passed through the house. Tomorrow’s hearing in the Senate Commerce Committe will be one of the last chances to stop it before it becomes law. Contacting the committee members could make a real difference. It also wouldn’t hurt to copy Kathleen Blanco with your concerns. Just in case it ends up on her desk.
(To watch the show, follow the link on the Legislature’s front page that will go live a few minutes after 9:30)