FCC Action Moves AheadOnly in the Byzantine and opaque world of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would a vote be taken on a document before that document was made public. But that's exactly what happened when the FCC adopted its (so-called) Competitive Franchise Order Dec. 20 on a partisan three-two vote.
The public, who the FCC is supposed to serve, finally got to see the order March 5. Given the dawdling ways of the FCC, 75 days isn't all that slow. But for this Order, 75 years would be too soon.
The Order is 109 pages long. It'll take a while before we understand its full impact but we've known for several months that it wasn't going to be good for community media, our communities, local control or democracy. The FCC, without substantial evidence, found that communities were making unreasonable demands on potential competitive video providers. In response, they've established time limits on negotiations that give the incoming telecommunications providers every incentive to NOT negotiate. The FCC also limited the ability of local communities to prevent red lining, receive in-kind benefits and severely restrict their ability to support community media and institutional networks.
In exchange sacrificing local control, fair payment for the use of public property, and community media, we are promised competition. But even the officers of the competitive providers tell us that they won't be competing on price. So don't expect to see your bill go down.
Taking this Order to court are the Alliance for Community Media and the Alliance for Communications Democracy (representing community media organizations nationwide), along with the National League of Cities, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and other groups.
Given the reluctance of courts to intervene in cases like this, it's unlikely they'll give an injunction so we'll probably live with this Order for a few years before litigation is complete. There's no guarantee that the courts will over turn the Order, but there's always hope. You can click here to contribute to the Alliance for Community Media's legal defense fund.
Click here for details on the FCC Order.
|Contact:||Rob Brading, Chief Executive Officer|
|Phone:||503-667-8848 ext. 318|
|Address:||829 N.E. 8th Street|
Gresham, OR 97030