State House Hearing on Tuesday June 5 at 10AM in Gardner Auditorium

June 2, 2007

From Cambridge Community Television:

Join CCTV at the State House 6/5 to Oppose the Verizon Bill!

“Verizon is pressing hard to change the way that cable companies do business in the Commonwealth. They have proposed a bill at the State House that threatens CCTV’s channels and funding, as well as the City’s control over our streets and sidewalks. We need YOU to come to the State House on June 5th at 10 AM to tell our legislators to Kill the Bill!

The hearing before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications is June 5th at 10 AM in Gardner Auditorium (or meet up with other CCTV members at 9 AM to travel to the State House together). Even if you do not plan to speak, your presence will have an impact. If you DO speak, talk briefly about your experiences as a user of CCTV’s services, and your fears that public access will lose funding and channels under the proposal.

In the meantime, please contact your state legislators and City Councilors and urge them to oppose the bill. Attached is a 14-point list of reasons to oppose the bill and contact information for our legislators and those on the Telecommunications Committee. If you do contact anyone in writing, please send a copy to info@cctvcambridge.org, or CCTV, 675 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. 02139.

You can read more about the bill here:
http://www.cctvcambridge.org/node/1148
and here:
http://www.keepitlocalma.com/

Here is what YOU can do:

  • Contact your state legislators and those who are on the Joint Telecommunications Committee, and urge them to kill the bill! (contact information is attached to this article)
  • Contact your City Councilors and urge them to oppose the bill
  • Come to the State House Hearing on June 5 at 10 AM in A-2
  • Download “10 Reason to Oppose the Verizon Bill” (PDF download) to learn more about the issues and take action!
  • Download a list of Legislative Contacts (PDF download)

 

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CCTV on Verizon’s State Video Franchising Bill

April 2, 2007


Cambridge Community Television writes

“Verizon, having failed to change cable franchising in Congress, is now pushing state legislation that would remove local control over the public rights of way and threaten funding for Public, Educational, and Governmental access channels and funding.”

There is a public hearing on May 15 at the Massachusetts State House in Room A-2. Please come out and show your support for community media.

In the meantime, if you live in Massachusetts, please contact your state legislator and tell them that you oppose “An Act Promoting Consumer Choice and Competition“. To learn more about this bill and ways that you can get involved, visit MassAccess.org (The Massachusetts Chapter of the Alliance for Community Media).


Verizon Bill Strategy Blog

March 8, 2007

John Donovan (CCTV) created People First, a “weblog/strategy piece”, as a way for people to work together to defeat the Verizon bill in the Massachusetts State House. The site provides a comprehensive approach towards achieving this goal.

“Verizon has introduced a bill into the Massachusetts State Legislature which is a disaster in more ways than one could even count, and they are putting a full-court lobbying and media press on to pass it, with extraordinary local and national dollars behind it. We need to kill this bill, but it’s going to take a seriously organized effort to win.

If you’re concerned about the future of community access to media and free speech, check out the blog and get involved.


Cape Cod Times on Last Wednesday’s DTE Hearing

August 21, 2006

Verizon Cable Plan Decried (via Free Press)

From Cape Cod Times, August 17, 2006
By David Kibbe

“Municipal officials from across the state packed a hearing room yesterday to fight Verizon’s proposal to speed up cable TV licensing, saying it would harm consumers.

Verizon, which is seeking to break into the Massachusetts cable market, wants the state to require cities and towns to hold a hearing on a cable license within 60 days of receiving an application, and to make a decision within 30 days after the hearing. Denials could be appealed to the Department of Telecommunications and Energy.”

Read the article here.


Can You Hear Us Now, Verizon?

August 17, 2006

After attending a public comment hearing whose standing room only crowd testified from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., it’s expected that one will be exposed to quite a range of perspectives. And for many different reasons, and a lot of the same, a strong and unmistakable majority (49 to 8 public speakers, at my count) of the voices present rang together in strong opposition to Verizon’s appeal to plow into Massachusetts as cable providers without having to follow the longstanding rules that other providers had to meet upon entering towns.

The Cable Division of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy met yesterday to discuss Verizon’s proposal to limit a local municipality’s ability to negotiate cable franchising agreements to a mere, and alarmingly dismissive, 90 days. In the 90 days, Verizon suggests, a town should be able to navigate the complex legal licencising process, ascertain the needs of the town, and negotiate Public Educational and Government (PEG) TV channel rights.

While Verizon representatives spoke first in a challenge to Massachusetts towns, who they claim have a “bureaucratic resistance to change,” town and city representatives, board of selectpersons members, cable advisory committee volunteers and PEG channel producers and executives from across the state followed with compelling stories to counter Verizon’s proposal.

The franchising negotiation process “is not like buying a copier for town hall,” one speaker remarked. Towns need the ability to hold cable providers accountable to their individual needs, and 90 days is insufficient time to complete all of the work necessary in recognizing what is fair to request of a massive corporation who will be using public rights of way for their own profit.

Towns such as Canton, Lexington and Westboro spoke of their current negotiations with Verizon, all far more than 90 days in. They told horror stories about Verizon’s reluctance to have open communication, the inflexibility they face from Verizon in negotiations, and Verizon’s habit of straying from the honored and recognized definitions of technical terms and language. The time it is taking to reach agreement, the towns argue, has been exaggerated due to Verizon’s lack of effort, not theirs.

Other towns, such as Northampton and Peabody, spoke to the strong desire to have Verizon enter into their towns as cable service providers. Verizon, however, hasn’t moved forward in consideration of the towns.

Cambridge Community Television and The Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, among others, gave forceful testimony from a PEG channel perspective. Were it not for the town’s ability to properly negotiate for station rights, the diverse and local programming that can be found on the channels – and nowhere else on television – would not be possible. In Massachusetts, PEG channels are vibrant and valued in their communities; many at the hearing noted that their success is in great part to the strong provisions that have been put into the town’s cable franchising agreement, and to the state’s policy that provides them the opportunity to fight for their needs. As the corporate media continues to chase profitable programming at the expense of invested and important information, the voices heard on local outlets must be supported and strengthened, not stifled.

Support for Verizon didn’t come cheap at the hearing; nor can it even be taken at face value. It’s no surprise that those speaking on behalf of Verizon’s proposed rule change have histories working for, or have been financially sponsored by, Verizon. Washington D.C.’s American Consumers Institute, a group made in part of telecommunication industry consultants who bill themselves as an independent consumer organization, showed up to suggest that the “pet projects” for which towns negotiate were unmerited or undeserved. Meanwhile, The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) allowed for money to mire their long-term interests that align with an ability to negotiate for adequate resources for their constituencies. LULAC has been sponsored by Verizon in the past and The NAACP’s current national president is a former president of Verizon’s retail division. The Metrowest Chamber of Commerce and The International Brotherhood of Electrical workers also spoke in support of the proposals on the grounds that Verizon will bring jobs to Massachusetts, but it begs the question: for every job that Verizon creates, how many are lost to other cable companies? How many would be lost to all of the other industries whose practices – theoretically left unchecked due to a muting of PEG channel ability should Verizon get its way – indiscriminately shrink work forces?

The tremendous turnout at the hearing speaks to the importance of this issue, and demonstrates that cities and towns are not willing to allow for Verizon to enter their communities without properly negotiating the agreement. The Department of Telecommunications and Energy respectfully listened to the hours of strong testimony in opposition to Verizon’s request, and now it will be the true test of their intentions as they move forward. Will they take vote in support of a giant corporation’s interest, or will they do the right thing and put the interests of the public first?
Visit the DTE’s website to read Verizon’s proposed rule and to learn more. As well, as of next week, transcriptions from the hearing will become public record and will be available at the DTE’s offices.


Join Us to Save Public Access!

August 12, 2006

(From the CCTV August 10, 2006 E-mail Update)

Attend A Critical, Local Telecomm Hearing

“CCTV needs your attendance at a hearing to oppose Verizon’s attempt to change the way that cable franchising is done in the Commonwwealth! Verizon filed a Petition for Rulemaking (CTV Docket 06-1) with the Department of Telecommunications and Energy on March 16. The Order, Hearing Notice, and Docket Index may be found here.

Verizon’s efforts are to eliminate what they consider ‘barriers’ to rolling out their video services. They are trying to remove cities’ and towns’ control over our public rights of way by eliminating local franchising.

The franchise process provides an opportunity for municipalities to negotiate additional benefits, and to set rules for how a service provider will do business. Verizon is requesting that this negotiation period, currently regulated at thirty six months, be reduced to just 90 days!

The hearing will be on August 16th, 10 a.m., at the Cable Division/DTE offices at One South Station, Hearing Room A. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jennifer at (617) 661-6900, who will be organizing a trip to the hearing.

If there seems to be a huge expected turnout, there may be a change of venue. Please stay tuned to the CCTV website, or call, if you have questions about the location.

It is important that the DTE see that there is extensive grass roots opposition to this proposal – if you can come, please try to make the effort!” – Cambridge Community Television


Verizon’s Petition to Massachusetts DTE Regarding Local Franchising Process

May 15, 2006

"CTV 06-1 Order Instituting Rulemaking Hearing Notice"

INTRODUCTION

"On March 16, 2006, Verizon New England Inc., d/b/a Verizon Massachusetts ('Verizon') filed, pursuant to G.L. c. 30A, § 4, c. 166A, § 16, and 207 C.M.R. § 2.01(1), a petition with the Department of Telecommunications and Energy, through the Cable Television Division ('Cable Division'), requesting that the Cable Division adopt a regulation governing the licensing process for a cable system in a city or town where the issuing authority has previously granted at least one cable license, and the applicant seeks to offer cable television service in competition with the incumbent provider. Verizon further requests that the Cable Division amend the regulation at 207 C.M.R. § 3.09, governing appeals, in keeping with Verizon’s proposed regulation on competitive licenses. A copy of Verizon’s Proposed Regulations is attached as Attachment A."

Download the PDF.

Document lives here.