Thursday, July 13, 2006
NUÑEZ: GIFTS FROM PHONE COMPANY DID NOT INFLUENCE MY POSITION
California’s cable franchise system is woefully out-of-date and out-of-step with today’s technology and the needs of consumers. The system is a patch-work quilt of independent fiefdoms that charge wildly varying rates.
The decades-old laws that govern the way we get cable TV must be updated to meet the needs of consumers and to spur the use of cutting-edge video delivery services. That is what we are trying to do with Assembly Bill 2987, authored by myself and Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys).
In his article “Dialing for Dollars,” [July 6, 2006] Ryan Masters says that the passage of AB 2987 would cost Monterey municipalities millions of dollars in lost fees. Not true. The bill permits the maximum franchise fee of five percent allowed by federal law to be paid to municipalities. Interestingly, that’s far more than some franchises pay to governments today.
We don’t have the exact figures yet, but cities in the Monterey area could receive more fees under AB 2987—and consumers may end up paying less for video services. That’s a win-win.
The article goes on to describe how Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) channels would suffer under AB 2987. Again, not true. The number of local public access channels would stay exactly the same. Plus, the bill contains a growth factor so more channels can be added as needed, not just when a franchise is being renegotiated.
Questions are also raised about new competitors being required to “build out” services to low-income areas. The bill specifically prohibits redlining. It includes a specific build out requirement at key times and annual reporting to ensure compliance.
Masters also ties political fundraising to the passage of this bill. That’s ludicrous and again, not true. AT&T has sponsored the Speaker’s Cup Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach for a decade, making this year no different.
I have worked tirelessly for nearly two decades on civil rights issues and have always stuck up for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised. That hasn’t changed with this bill. —Fabian Núñez | Sacramento
The letter writer is speaker of the California Assembly.
FLACK: CABLE FRANCHISE BILL IS ABOUT CHOICE
When the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee passed AB 2987 9-0 last week, they did so with the firm belief that it will bring competition, lower prices and improved services for all Californians.
Despite the rhetoric from the League of California Cities and some local officials, AB 2987 includes specific provisions that require phone companies to pay the same percentage of revenue to the local communities that cable operators now pay. In fact, AB 2987 authorizes a franchise fee of up to 5 percent—payable to local governments—while keeping local governments responsible for enforcement of customer service standards and granting rights of way.
Additionally, AB 2987 requires phone companies to carry the same amount of public access, education and government (PEG) channels that are now currently being used.
Councilman Jeff Haferman wants to preserve a video franchise system that is clearly outdated and broken as any consumer knows. We believe the current amended version of AB 2987 strikes a reasonable balance between local control and consumers’ desire for competition that will bring lower prices for video services. —Erin Garvey | Sacramento
The letter writer is executive director of Californians for Technology and Video Choice, an industry-sponsored group.
AMERICA: EAT FASTER!
There is perhaps no better index of the United States decline in the global community than ceding of the world hot dog-eating contest once again to Takeru Kobayashi from Japan.
With all due respect to Mr. Kobayashi, who consumed 53 hot dogs in 12 minutes, American patriots need to take notice. In a country that has long held the distinction of the highest caloric-consuming country in the world, one would think that the US could hold first place in this important international sport. Sixty-five percent of American adults are overweight.
The World Cup holds little promise for proving American prowess. But with Joey Chestnut of San Jose placing second at 52 hot dogs in 12 minutes, we are within striking distance in this new global sport. —Bill Monning | Carmel