Keep it Local!

Massachusetts Senate Bill 1687 is currently scheduled for a hearing at the Statehouse on Wednesday, May 18. This bill could cripple the ability of our community to effectively support and sustain our local public access cable television studio and all of the wonderful resources it offers to the community.
Some 16,000 Cape Ann households rely on their local access channels to view city and town meetings, Board of Selectman meetings, local events and news about the nonprofit service organizations. We are a training and educational facility teaching people from senior citizens to students to create programs that communicate their messages and give them a local voice in their community using their local access channels.
The legal structure in Massachusetts that currently exists – the Massachusetts Cable Act (M.G.L.166A) – has allowed, and continues to allow, successful and effective negotiations between communities and cable providers. This law, as it currently exists, accomplishes its purpose to provide a means to establish and comply with the communications needs of each community. It provides support that maintains the existence of these vital community resources.
The proposed Senate Bill 1687 only serves to undermine that support. Community needs assessment and research is typically done by a cable advisory task force established in each community prior to the license negotiations. Imposing a 90-day time frame on cable license negotiations makes this Bill unrealistic and weakens the ability of individual communities to identify and properly ascertain each community’s individual telecommunication needs.
Severely reducing the time that communities can spend to determine their needs and conduct adequate and timely research would in no way benefit the community but only the cable service provider. For example, Verizon has had no difficulty in acquiring cable licenses in the communities they identified as “desirable” in Massachusetts – they have successfully negotiated over 110 licenses throughout the state. This bill does not encourage competition between cable service providers; it handicaps the local negotiating position and weakens the community rights the Cable Act is intended to protect. These channels were established years ago in the public interest and the best idea is to keep it local!
To show support of your local public access community television channels and station, I ask you to appeal to legislators to oppose Massachusetts Senate Bill 1687. Contact information is available on the website. Thank you.


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