Event News

Weekly News From the President: Net Neutrality Deadline is Wednesday

Comcast Suing Vermont After Losing an Appeal to the Public Utilities Commission

After losing its appeal to the Vermont Public Utilities Commission, Comcast is now suing the state to get out of its public service obligations. The state commission had looked at the cable related needs of customers and communities (what it’s charged to do by Cable Act) and found Comcast had failed to meet its current obligations to provide PEG channel program guide information to customers and needed to extend service by about 550 miles to better serve the mostly rural state (you can find links to the lawsuit and the PUC’s decision in Jon Brodkin’s coverage in Ars Technica).

What’s galling about the lawsuit is it further delays any requirement for the company to get its act together. Remember, Comcast was told in January it had a year to fix how it provides program guide information to customers. It then appealed the decision, and was rejected last month. If the lawsuit takes a year to be decided, the company has kicked the can down the road by at least 18 months.

Sadly, that’s the sole reason for the lawsuit, to delay paying the bill it is supposed to pay for the cost of doing business and serving customers. In the meantime, the company continues to stifle viewership for PEG channels in the state. Instead of January 2018, the channels may not get equal treatment on program guides until mid-2019 at the earliest!

You’d think a technology company that prides itself on caring about innovation to meet consumer needs would care a little more.

ACM will be working with our members in Vermont and Vermont Access Network as the lawsuit proceeds. It’s vital for PEG channels to be treated equally on cable systems. VAN has started a petition with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group to tell Comcast to meet its obligations.

Celebrities Campaign for Public Access

Should we be pleased to see a major international lifestyle brand promote the concept of “Public Access” media as it sells yet more shoes?

The Converse Public Access campaign roles out later today, featuring Miley Cyrus and Maisie Williams (Arya in Game of Thrones) hosting their very own wacky programs, which inevitably will pimp sneakers.

Sigh.

One positive, I suppose, is a reaffirmation of the notion that Public Access is where creativity reigns. Forget about the idea that everyone can be creative, not just celebrities, or that the channels are meant to host significant local content, or that they are supposed to be non-commercial in nature.

Perhaps I will be proven wrong, and Miley Cyrus will talk about regional zoning needs or local elections in that skimpy bikini. I’m not holding my breath.

Sincerely,
Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO
The Alliance for Community Media