www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT

Gregory G. Davis

 

A Secure Future for Community Access Television – The Summer 2014 View

 

  

WHY THE FUTURE OF COMMUNITY ACCESS IS AT RISK

 

1.  The looming landslide to Video (OTT) programming delivery on the internet will completely dry up the funding mechanism for community access providers.

 

2.  The Designated Community Access Provider territories are NOT fixed per the original cable franchise territories.  Commercial operator territory consolidation can erase the original Community Access Provider PURA map areas. 

 

3.  The Cable Advisory Councils who are dedicated to promoting a secure future for Community Access Television Programming & Operations have lost their funding in multiple franchise territories.

 

Overview:  2014 Current Connecticut Law  regarding Multiple Video Program Distributor (MVPD) Licensed Franchise Business Operation Choices:

 

The CPCN  Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity License

Licenses are granted for limited times for Community Antenna and Cable Companies.   The CPCN license is now obsolete in CT.

  

The CVFA - Certificate of Video Franchise Authority License

open ended, no fixed expiration, no rate regulation

$1000 application fee

Must carry Community Access programming (16-331h)

Must collect Community Access subscriber fees as per 16-331a(k).  (16-331h)

Must fund the Statewide Video Advisory Council with $2000 annual fee (16-331i)

Must meet with the SVAC at least 2x per year (16-331i)

Must include SVAC information with billing at least 2x per year (16-331i)

Must Pay a Gross Earnings Tax (CGS12-256), not to exceed $5 million annually, into the Municipal video competition trust account which is distributed by the State anually to the towns & cities served  (16-331bb).

Must Pay a Gross Earnings Tax to Fund the PEGPETIA account  (CGS 16-331cc)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT

Gregory G. Davis

 

The CCFA - Certificate of Cable Franchise Authority

open ended, no fixed expiration, no rate regualtion,

$1000 application fee;  CPCN is terminated if CVFA operation is available in the territory

Must comply with 16-331s; which brings forward all provisions

of CGS16-331a - Community Access Programming and Operations,

excluding only subsections (j) & (m).  CGS16-333 (c ) is also linked(hearing imparied) , including

  Must collect Community Access subscriber fees,

  Must fund the Designated Community Access Provider.

  Must fund the Cable Advisory Council with $2000 annual fee.

  Must meet with the Cable Advisory Council at least 2x per year

  Must include Cable Advisory Council information with billing at least 2x per year

  Must Pay a Gross Earnings Tax to Fund the PEGPETIA account  (CGS 16-331cc)

 

PA07-253 changes regulation of Multiple Video Program Distributor Businesses

Public Act 07-253 – An Act Concerning Competitive Video Services enacted into law January 2008: effects all legacy “Community Antenna, & Cable Company” operations as AT&T is granted a new license category to compete with them.

 

1.  A CVFA license holder is relieved of ALL responsibilities performed by the Designated Community Access Provider (CGS 16-331a - all subsections a-o, except k).   CVFA license holders only collect the community access subscriber fees to and pass them to the Designated Community Access Provider. (16-331a(k).

 

2.  The CPCN License holders were the original Designated Community Access Providers, unless the Designated Community Access Provider Status has been transferred to a qualified third party not-for-profit organization within the specified Franchise territory by the PURA. The CCFA license cancels the CPCN license in any region if “effective competition” from a qualified CVFA licensee is also operating in the same region.

 

3.  The State of CT is currently divided into CABLE FRANCHISE Territories, organized into 24 physical map areas of the State.  These 24 remaining Franchise territories are the PURA specified map area COMMUNITY ACCESS Regions.  Most of the 24 Franchise territories have been re-licensed as CCFA businesses, allowing for the transition to competitive video services, and a continuity of Community Access Provider Programming and Operations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT

Gregory G. Davis

 

4.  Requiring Statewide Video Franchise operators support the build-out of another layer of Community Access programming Providers in each of the 24 regions would be redundant, and illogical.

 

5.  A CCFA or CVFA license holder can sell, or transfer their license at will.  A license is cancelled voluntarily by the holder, or revoked by the State for failure to comply with the law.

 

6.  The CCFA license holder can apply for a new CCFA or CVFA, consolidating franchise territories.  Comcast (14 of the 24 regions) is moving forward in this process of consolidation.

 

7.  A CCFA license holder can apply for a new CVFA license, and simply let the CCFA lapse… Cox (areas R12, R15 & R17) is currently in the position to do this.

 

8.  Any business entity may apply and operate under the CVFA license, even if they were a legacy Cable company.  They can choose to do this – specifically because CT law does not prohibit them from doing so.   Legacy Cable company Cablevision has chosen to Purchase 3 “Statewide”  CVFA licenses for its business operations in 3 of the 24 CT Franchise territories – completely ignoring the concept of “Statewide” in the very title of the license.  One little tiny company, Metrocast with maybe 20,000 subscribers in SE CT has also chosen the CVFA license -  and it cannot could mount a credible argument that they intend to provide “state-wide” service in the future,  even though there is now legal time horizon for proof of performance to qualify for “State-wide” service provider status.

 

9.  Cable Company Franchise territories which are served by CVFA business operators have no legal requirement to fund their Cable Advisory Councils, even though the legally defined responsibilities of the Cable Advisory Councils continue to exist in at least 8 separate sections of the CT law under 16-331 thru 16-333.  This unfortunate oversight by the authors of the 2007 legislation (that would be AT&T legal beagles) adopted as PA 07-253, have resulted in protracted legal battles (2009 – 2014) which have diverted millions of community access subscriber dollars into legal fees instead of community access programming support.  An in-depth final decision by the judge in this case about the history and what went wrong is worth reading.  Find The CT Hartford Superior Court Decision here:  http://cableadvisorycouncil.com/reports/SoundviewVPURA%20DecisionMarch2014.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

29 July 2014   

Cable Advisory Council Chairman’s Letter

 

For the Attention of the Stakeholders and Supporters of Community Access Television

 

An invitation is hereby extended to stakeholders, and interested citizens to a meeting of the Strategic Action Committee of the Cable Advisory Council for Area 19, Charter Western, on 12 August in Newtown CT at 7pm - Newtown Town Hall Meeting Room #1, 3 Primrose Road on the Fairfield Hills Campus. An organizational action strategy to propose legislation will be discussed.

 

The time for Connecticut Citizens to decide the importance, and very future of Institution of Community Access is at hand.  Community Access TV is our special Golden Goose underscoring our First Amendment Rights.  Let us actively work NOW to preserve its future, and not bemoan its loss after it is gone.

 

Please consider this invitation to actively call attention to the question:  Will the sports & entertainment monopolies ultimately kill our golden goose...?

 

More specifically, when the massive shift to Broadband + OTT happens, it will likely happen in a landslide.  A dramatic reduction in the number of Basic Service Tier Subscribers for the bundled Pay-TV programming packages from the Multiple Video Program Distributors will result.  The loss of these subscribers will completely undermine the sole financial pillar of the Institution of Community Access Television in Connecticut.  Unless visionary legislative action is taken ASAP to guarantee a secure financial future for the Institution of Community Access, it will disappear forever.  

 

The 9 July 2014 Meeting of the Cable Advisory Council dedicated its focus on understanding the scope of the issue facing Community Access, and the identification of the stakeholders to be invited to a meeting for discussing proposed legislation which promotes and protects a secure future for meaningful Community Access – our prime directive. (CGS 16-331a (b))

 

A Chairman’s editorial summary analysis report, a summary report of the newsworthy media industry events in July, and the July 2014 View of Legislative initiatives are attached.    The Distribution List for this message is attached.

 

Sincerely,

 

Gregory G. Davis, KB1YHW

Chairman Cable Advisory Council

 

 

 

 

 

www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

29 July 2014

 

Cable Advisory Council Chairman’s Analysis & Report

 

A troubling scenario for the future for Community Access lies ahead

 

The Multiple Video Program Distributor (MVPD) Pay-TV bundled programming business model will ultimately lose its mass market appeal due to the near-hyper inflationary rise in monthly service costs, due substantially to "forced" sports programming included in the bundled pay-TV packages.  The explosive growth of the sports & entertainment media industry, which relies on the MVPD’s monthly cash cow billing infrastructure, are all doing exactly as the law allows:  Pursue maximum profits for the benefit of corporate owners and management.  They wield their corporate financial power to influence legislation and regulation as a routine cost of doing business. The American Citizens however, are tasked with the responsibility to guard their democracy, for which so many lives have been sacrificed.

 

The public at large will very soon massively shift from the bundled programming Pay-TV package - over to a New model:  Broadband Internet + OTT Video Programming (Netflix + Amazon, etc..)  The “OTT “(Over-The-Top Video via the internet) & “Cord Nevers” crowd want little or nothing to do with this particular expensive monopolistic enterprise as marketed by the MVPD’s.  Compare the costs:  The hugely useful broadband internet service providing interactive access to information at $30-$40/month plus $9.00/month for NETFLIX - sans commercial advertising, all for less than $50 per month.  This deal trumps the current  Pay TV Bundled Cable package offering which requires  Basic Service Tier + Expanded Service Tier (at $80/mo), before you get the opportunity to pony up $9.00/month for HBO; and still have to pay that  $30-$40/month for broadband internet service.  It easily adds up to $120 per month. This cost difference ($70/month) is rapidly rising above the family financial noise floor, and now presents a potential major life style improvement opportunity - allowing us to abandon "Prime Time" Commercial Pay-TV (emphasis on COMMERCIALS), and free up $750+ per year in family resources for other priorities.

 

American citizens long ago established the essential need to protect a healthy and strong democracy by tasking our government to insure broad and affordable access to basic communications technology.  Affordable and accessible Basic Telephone Service became a national policy, regulated by the FCC.  This principle was expanded to cover the Basic Service Tier of an emergent cable industry as it included the local broadcast stations with new local public service and community access channels.  A new and essential pillar of our democracy has evolved with time and technology, and is easily recognized as Broadband Internet service. This new and essential communications tool for the American Democracy represents another dynamic debate as the nation considers the Public Interest vs. monopoly assisted corporate profits currently taking form as the “Net Neutrality” argument.  

 

While this tangent is topical too, let us get back to the Golden Goose part of this story and pull our focus on the Connecticut Institution of Community Access Television. 

 

 

 

 

www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

The institution of Community Access Television is our unique golden goose most at risk.  It is golden because of its importance and value to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  The Institution of Community Access is NOT supported by TAXES - income, excise, activity, property, or other taxes, etc.  Community Access Television is only supported by a Community Access Subscriber Fee collected from Corporations licensed to provide Cable and Video Programming services within Connecticut; the aggregate funding for Community Access Television is based entirely upon the number of their Basic Service Tier (BST) subscribers.  The Basic Service Tier was created by the US Congress and administered in FCC Title 47 CFR 76.1500.  In Short, the Basic Service Tier "must exist" in the Public Interest, and is now under intensive pressure to be abolished by the financial influence of BIG SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA Corporations, including the MVPD’s.

 

Within the borders of CT, The MVPD’s are the CCFA and CVFA license holders.  These business entities must collect a Community Access Subscriber Fee for each and every BST  subscriber.  These fees are directly remitted to the Community Access Providers as designated by the CT PURA.  These CCFA and CVFA Connecticut State licenses are "Certificates of Cable or Video Franchise Authority" -  ie... they are the legal licenses to operate Limited Monopoly business activities within their “Franchise” territories.

Community Access funding directly equates to the number of Basic Service Tier Subscribers; that Federally required & lowest cost basic service tier (BST) of the Bundled Pay TV Package.  Community Access Funding is required by law per the Connecticut General Statutes, CHAPTER 289* DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITY CONTROL: COMMUNITY ANTENNA TELEVISION SYSTEMS AND COMPETITIVE VIDEO SERVICE PROVIDERS, Section 16-331a(k).  An annual fee is collected on a "PER SUBSCRIBER BASIS" for the support of Community Access.  This fee starts at $5 per year - per subscriber.  The CT DPUC/PURA revises this figure annually, primarily based upon official US COLA formulas, and in no area of CT, does this fee currently exceed $12 per year - per subscriber. This is the SOLE financial Support for the Institution of Community Access.  Government and Educational Access TV producers are invited and encouraged in law to share the community access production & distribution infrastructure resource, in order to further promote the public interest and community communication, independent of their size or financial resources.  

 

When the General Public shifts their preference from $120 / month bundled Pay-TV packages to $50 / month Broadband Internet plus Over The Top Video, the funding for the institution of community access literally dries up.  The behavior patterns of the Bundled Programming Pay-TV distribution + Sports & Entertainment Media Industries is well documented; They will surely continue to milk their Cash Cow dry, knowing full well the fall back position will be the monthly tithe for essential internet connectivity while lobbying to keep it away from FCC Title II regulation.  They continue to have every financial incentive to cook and devour their own golden goose, yet be aware of the facts:  NETFLIX now has over 50 million subscribers, while MVPD PAY-TV has shrunk to less than 100 Million subscribers. 

                                                           

Gregory G. Davis, KB1YHW

Chairman, Area 19 Cable Advisory Council

 

 

 

www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

A Secure Future for Community Access Television – The August  2014 View

Legislative Initiatives to Preserve the Institution of Community Access

 

 

A.  Any CVFA or CCFA license holder must include the minimum basic service tier as an equally important selection in all public publications and customer recruitment and upgrade sales campaigns. 

 

 

B.  The CT geographical regions associated with the 24 CT cable franchise territories upon adoption of PA07-253, become fixed as Designated Community Access Provider regions, independent of CCFA license holder territory changes or consolidations.

 

 

C.  The PURA will conduct a full investigation of programming and operations of each designated community access provider and their associated advisory council, at least once every five years.  The PURA may issue regulatory updates to cable and statewide advisory council appointment requirements.

 

 

D.  The PURA may reorganize the CAP regions to better serve Community Access producers upon completion of regular PURA investigations.

 

 

E.  The PURA will include advisory council funding during the annual support review of the of the designated community access providers.  If no CCFA license holder exists with a CAP region, the CVFA license holders may be designated by PURA to provide the annual support for the advisory council.

 

 

F.  Any CVFA or CCFA license holder will collect a fee from each subscriber exclusively for the support of the designated community access provider in the licensed territory.  The fee will be annually set by the PURA in the annual community access support review. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.  The PURA will guide the conversions of a Designated CAP into an independent Not-for-profit Corporation for the PURA region.  Legal costs will be funded by the license holders party to CCFA/CVFA franchise operators in the territory.  The PURA will review and facilitate this process in the public interest.

 

 

H.  CVFA license perpetuity is conditional upon a minimum qualification for the Certified Statewide Video Provider license to be set by the PURA and to include not less than 51% of the population, towns or residential homes in the State of Connecticut, or automatically convert to the CCFA license application after probationary period not to exceed 7 years.

 

 

I. The Designated CAP has primary responsibility for community access studio programming and operations funded by access subscriber fees collected within the region.  Independent studio operations supported and operated by Educational or Governmental entities within the CAP region shall have formal PURA approved agreements with the designated CAP.

 

 

J.  Basic Service Tier programming will be made available free of charge to designated Emergency Operations Centers, Senior centers, and designated disaster shelter locations in each town of each regional franchise territory by the CCFA or CVFA if it is also providing broadband internet service.

 

 

K.  If any CT CCFA territory does not have a valid licensee, the CVFA licensee(s) for the franchise territory will be the host for the designated community access provider with the responsibilities per CCFA regulations.

 

L.  Public – Educational – Governmental Programming and Education Technology Investment Account  (PEGPETIA) funding expenditure by the advisory councils will facilitate programming content by community access producers.