For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19
PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470
A SECURE FUTURE FOR COMMUNITY ACCESS
Chairman Report by Gregory G. Davis, 12 November 2013
Editorial Review and analysis of PA 08-159 / collated into Chapter 289 of the CT General Statues as16-331ff & 16-331gg. Support and passage of PA 08-159 was a direct reaction to the threat of extinction to legacy access providers in Region 2 after to the passage of PA 07-253.
1. My reaction to reading this act remains consistent:
It is a confusing and convoluted set of language. The purpose and motivations are unclear.
In my opinion, Laws must be written to plainly; to clearly describe their purpose and function.
PA 07-159 specifically targets one entity with the use of the following language:
" Any third-party nonprofit community access provider serving six municipalities, one of which has a population of more than one hundred thirty thousand,..."
Only PURA map area defined as Region 2 meets the 6 municipality total, with Bridgeport being the one larger than 130,000 population. The other 23 PURA defined map area regions are UN-effected. The third-party nonprofit community access provider is Soundview Community Media.
This qualifier phrase is restated no less than 5 times in a 2 section / 5 paragraph act: and is guaranteed to make your eyes roll. It feels like an intentional deception created for a special interest group - for some unclear reason.. It is this basic and fundamental cloaking behind a language game that could ultimately be the undoing of PA 08-159. It is now being tested in Connecticut Courts of Law. It is diverting vital and scarce community access subscriber fees to the legal costs of the law suit Soundview vs. PURA.
2. Even though PA 08-159 has this controversial foundation, the adoption of the act has provided a direct and beneficial short term outcome: Preservation of an evolved legacy infrastructure of community access television providers within Region 2, and helped to defend them against predatory actions on the part of legacy designated community access provider - Soundview Community Media. SVCM fully intends to once again monopolize all funding for community access production in the Region 2 territory.
In short, this special interest act, had the immediate good result in saving the smaller community access providers in Region 2. The downside of PA08-159 has been the profligate waste of Region 2 community access subscriber fees on legal maneuvers and law suits specifically targeted to derail and repeal the act.
3. There is a far bigger issue that must be resolved: the shortcoming in PA 07-253 which allows for legacy / incumbent cable companies to freely choose between two operating license categories without qualification. This freedom has invited a distortion first adopted by the management of Cablevision, the new license category of "STATEWIDE VIDEO SERVICES PROVIDER". Cablevision found it to their advantage to choose the CVFA instead of the CCFA operating license, even though it clearly was a legacy franchise Cable TV business. There is no provision in the law to qualify for CVFA, except to pay the fees and make the financial contributions to specified government accounts. The license is good forever, as long as the fees are paid.
4. PURA regulation could of course address this implementation of the license structure, and in my opinion, it is fully within their domain to do so as the executive to enforce the spirit of the law. PURA, however, is taking the conservative approach, choosing only to take action on specifically legislated tasks. This has made the PURA impotent in the carnage and damage that continues to occur to community access television. The in-action of PURA on this matter has made it the defendant in an on-going lawsuit filed by Soundview Community Media.
It must be recognized that Region 2 community access subscriber fees are directly supporting the legal costs of the plaintiff instead of community access programming and operations. Soundview as the plaintiff, has demonstrated the following goals of its strategy:
1. Overturn 16-331ff &16-331gg as UN-constitutional on a number of principles
2. Regain full control of all community access subscriber fees in Region 2.
3. Deny any future subscriber fee funding for the other legacy community access providers in Region 2.
4. Encourage the state-wide adoption of CVFA operation by all video services providers, and render the CCFA license as obsolete to the following effects: No more harassment or meddling by pesky advisory councils because:
a. All Cable Advisory Councils disappear do to lack of funding from CCFA license holders. CVFA license holders only fund 1 Statewide Video advisory Council.
b. The Statewide Video Advisory Council will have ZERO members - ie... 24 or so empty chairs, because the law requires that the local Cable Advisory Councils nominate/appoint the representatives to the SVAC. The statewide video advisory council would then have all of its representative seats filled by ghosts... Insuring complete advisory council impotence in the performance of its legislated duties and functions. "Finally - No More Meddling with the Access Provider operations or policies by those pesky advisory councils!”
Gregory G. Davis, KB1YHW
Chairman, R19 Charter Western Advisory Council