Protecting the public’s channels

KUC News

House Passes Amended State Cable Bill

May 30, 2013

The Illinois House this week approved an extension of the Cable and Video Competition Act (the Illinois Cable Act) that represents a mixed outcome for the public.

The good news is that the state rejected an attempt by the Cable Television and Communications Association of Illinois (CT&C) to obtain sweeping changes to the law that would have impaired municipal authority and wreaked havoc on the state’s public, educational and government (PEG) access channels.

“The state acted swiftly to put the brakes on the CT&C‘s harmful proposal,” said CAN TV Executive Director Barbara Popovic. “That prevented the loss of local channels that today provide thousands of hours of programming statewide on education, arts, economic development, public safety and civic engagement.”

The bad news is the failure of enforcement or legislation to rectify AT&T’s failure to meet the equivalency standard in the law for the public’s channels.

“We need the Attorney General to enforce the state’s PEG access provisions,” said Illinois NATOA President Howard Kleinstein. “Should enforcement fail to correct AT&T's segregation and inferior treatment of PEG channels, a legislative solution in 2015 will be imperative."

Other amendments in the law delete certain build-out requirements and consumer protections. For many Illinois residents, that means cable competition will remain a hit or miss proposition.

The Illinois Cable Act was first signed into law in 2007 and will now be extended to July of 2015. Senate approval is expected prior to the end of session on Friday, May 31.