Public access TV and the trend towards "state-level" franchises

This month's issue of Governing Magazine features an excellent and accessible article about the impact of telephone and cable company-funded state franchising on public access TV:

Recently, the traditional cable-franchising system that nurtured public access TV has come under assault. Telephone companies, most notably AT&T and Verizon, are getting into the TV business. They don't want to hop from town to town negotiating local franchises as the cable companies did. Rather, they want new rules that give them the power to obtain broadcasting rights for entire states in one fell swoop.

Their argument that competition will drive down pay-TV prices and improve service has been so successful at the state level that the phone companies have scrapped efforts to lobby Congress for a national franchise law. Cable companies, meanwhile, initially lobbied against the telcos to protect their own turf but have grudgingly accepted the idea of statewide franchising as long as they get to play by the same rules.

Public access is losing out in this battle of TV titans... (read more)