Missouri Legislators Should Repeal the State’s 2007 Video Franchise Law

Communications Daily:

Missouri legislators should repeal the state’s 2007 video franchise law, which has failed to produce the intended competition and lower prices, said American Community Television and the Missouri Municipal League in comments to the Public Service Commission. “What they should do is realize it hasn’t worked and repeal it,” said ACT Executive Director Bunnie Riedel. At the least, the law should be amended to improve consumer protections, ACT and the League said. The commission had sought comments on a draft report about the impact of the Video Services Providers Act (CD Aug 10 p8). The groups also slammed the handling under the law of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access TV and consumer complaints. PEG channels get shabby treatment in Missouri from Charter and Mediacom that includes moving channels to undesirable slots in St. Peters, Cape Girardeau, Springfield and St. Louis, the groups said. “In those communities, PEG channels have been slammed into the 900’s or been moved out of the basic tier and are inaccessible to subscribers unless they purchase additional tiers of service or additional equipment,” the filing said. “It is a violation of federal law,” Riedel said. “The Telecommunications Act clearly states that PEG channels are a part of the minimum contents of the basic tier of service.” As an example of better treatment of PEG, the groups noted that in Kansas City, Time Warner, which has kept government access television on channel 2, recently wrote to all Texas municipalities that it would “channel map” access channels to their current position even while migrating all channels to the digital tier. “Charter and Mediacom have the same technical capability as Time Warner,” Riedel said. “Cable customers in Missouri are not being protected,” Riedel said. “The purpose of the legislation was to bring cable competition and to lower prices. Even the PSC admits this has not happened, saying that prices have either remained the same or have gone up. Meanwhile consumers have taken it on the chin.”

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