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Public Access TV Future At Stake in Illinois Legislative Fight

Save Public Access The biggest struggle in the local media policy scene in 2007 might be the forthcoming fight over state video franchises and the resulting impacts on community media infrastructure in Illinois.

Phone companies like Verizon and AT&T want to push their version of cable television, but they don’t want to pay costs for public service obligations like building technical infrastructure to poor communities, paying for community media centers, or providing public access channels (which airs local shows like Chicago Independent Television and Labor Beat).

Phone companies have been working to change laws at the state level to reduce or eliminate such obligations, pushing for state video franchises which would remove control and funding for local cable from local governments. More than a dozen states have changed their laws to include state video franchises, and Illinois is the next target.

The Illinois General Assembly will convene this year, and the Illinois Telecommunications Act (the main state law concerning media and the internet) is scheduled for a rewrite. A coalition is assembling to struggle on behalf of local rights, much like a similar struggle and victory in 2005. Read more

Additional coverage: Daily Herald: AT&T pushes for state video franchises | Schaumburg Review: If cable changes, what would happen to public programming? | Grassroots group or Astroturf?

Related links: CAN TV | Alliance for Community Media | | Free Press: Defend Local Access | Chicago Media Action


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