Latest Senate Bill 117 update from Local Voice Ohio
Well, the Public Interest took it on the chin yesterday in the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee.
We did make some minimal gains including:
1. A deadline of 60 days for video service providers to pay their franchise fees following the end of a quarter.
2. The Department of Commerce has been given enforcement authority over a limited set of customer service/consumer protection standards, with modest fines/penalties possible, collectible by court action.
3. Communities that have three or more PEG channels operating on January 1, 2007 can keep three of them on the basic tier. The rest go off to the digital gulag.
4. Video service providers have to accept PEG channel content and programming that at the least, meets the transmission standards of the national television standards committee in effect on the effective date of this section instead of in a format required by the company.
5. Video service providers must provide PEG transmission at no cost until the expiration date of a franchise agreement or until January 1, 2012, whichever comes first.
6. PEG funding still continues until the expiration date of a franchise agreement or until January 1, 2012, whichever comes first.
The rest is a disaster including:
1. SB 117 still fails to protect local governments financially with meaningful changes to the definition of gross revenue for purposes of calculating video service provider fees.
2. SB 117 still fails to permit local governments to effectively audit the payment of video service provider fees.
3. SB 117 still fails to appropriately grandfather PEG funding and I-Net obligations, meaning these valuable resources will be lost in many communities.
4. SB 117 still fails to provide a reasonable definition of "substantial utilization" for purposes of reclaiming PEG channels, allowing cable companies to do away with community bulletin boards and local channels in many smaller communities.
5. SB 117 still fails to provide that complimentary service to public facilities may be required in return for private companies' use of public right-of-way property.
We would not have gotten what little is in the bill for the public interest without your assistance. There is still the possibility, though slim, that the tide could turn. The bill goes before the full House tomorrow, Thursday June 14th. Please use this link to get your representative's phone number and call to tell the them to vote NO on SB 117, and/or fax them via the LVO Action Page to also tell them to vote "NO" on SB 117.
Thank you for your support so far. Without you, this bill would be an even bigger disaster than it is now.