Sunday, August 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Davis Media Access: Community media, rights are common ground

By
From page A4 | April 26, 2012 |

Last week, I spoke at a state Senate hearing against SB 1611, a bill that would eliminate many consumer rights afforded to our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

A sizeable group of advocates opposed the bill, ranging from consumer rights agencies, labor unions, rural networks, and broadband and media advocates. Our comments emphasized the need for Universal Lifeline service and protections for low-income and rural residents whose access to digital networks is already limited.

In support were lobbyists from every major telecommunications company in the state. They argued that further deregulation of the telecom companies is good for business, and therefore good for the consumer.

If I didn’t know better, I might have been convinced by their testimony. They were extremely well dressed, articulate and spoke with such conviction. They convinced the Senate committee they spoke the truth, and the bill moved on. That’s how the game is played.

The problem is it’s a game played on a grossly uneven playing field.

The Los Angeles Times published an excellent article recently about AT&T’s moneyed sway over California politics (“AT&T Donations Flow to California Legislators,” April 22). Shane Goldmacher and Anthony Yor carefully detail the rise of AT&T in California politics:

“It (AT&T) forges relationships on the putting green, in luxury suites and in Capitol hallways. It gives officials free tickets to Lady Gaga concerts. It takes lawmakers on trips around the globe and all-expenses-paid retreats in wine country. It dispenses millions in political donations and employs an army of lobbyists. It has spent more than $14,000 a day on political advocacy since 2005, when it merged with SBC into its current form.

“A handful of labor unions and trade groups have spent more on a combination of lobbying and direct political giving, but state records show that in the last seven years, no single corporation has spent as much trying to influence lawmakers as AT&T. At the same time, a tide of consumer protections has ebbed and the company has been unshackled from the watchful eye of state regulators.”

As to the contention that deregulating powerful telecom companies is good for the consumer: AT&T was the principal force behind the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006, which enacted statewide video franchising. Phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon were allowed to enter the video market without having to negotiate with cities directly. Cities lost an enormous amount of power to negotiate benefits for their municipality and for the Public, Educational and Government access centers therein.

A report published by The Benton Foundation in April 2011 (“Analysis of Recent PEG Access Center Closures, Funding Cutbacks and Related Threats”) details the impact of that legislation on community media centers similar to Davis Media Access.

The study found that more than 100 centers have closed or endured severe cuts. Hundreds more face similar cutbacks or may be forced to cease operations in the near future, and that this has occurred primarily as a result of state franchising laws. The report concluded “Without question, the Cable Act’s goal of advancing the First Amendment through public participation in PEG Access is now in serious danger.”

Years ago when I started working in community media, I would have said my work was about free speech, not consumer rights. Today the two are inextricably linked, and it’s a pitched battle. If you’d like more information, visit our allies at The Utility Reform Network (http://turn.org ). I’ll continue to track and write about similar legislation.

— Autumn Labbé-Renault is executive director for Davis Media Access, an organization providing access to, and advocacy for, local media. She writes this column monthly.

Comments

comments

Autumn Labbe-Renault

.

News

 
 
Davis audience hears from civil-rights hero

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Legislators wrap up with water, ethics, guns bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Bob Dunning: This new kid might have a future

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Five U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State fighters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
EU threatens Russia with more sanctions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Robbery, pursuit in Central Davis lead to one arrest

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Rotary clubs offer Davis High students some life lessons

By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Yolo Federal to hold photo contest

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Katehi will speak at Chamber’s community luncheon

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Bean Feed supports for Yolo Democrats’ activities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Bauer garden marks one year

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Dinner will raise funds to help farmers in Burkina Faso

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Beamer Park featured at Stroll Through History

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Tuleyome Tales: Be safe on wilderness trails

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Small wineries suffer big losses in quake

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Grande site has been a convoluted saga

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

 
Say goodbye to summer with a ‘Final Blast’ at Explorit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Bay Bridge project’s rainy-day money is nearly gone

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A15 | Gallery

.

Forum

Already made herself at home

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Nate Beeler cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

Changing local election dates benefits Democrats

By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

 
Ad-free email? You can still find it at Davis Community Network

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Keep our green waste piles

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
How to make a good living

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
City panel working to tighten scrutiny of taxpayer dollars

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

Try round-robin storytelling at crafts fair

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Marriage doesn’t mean we agree on everything

By Marion Franck | From Page: A14

This epidemic should scare us

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

 
.

Sports

Devils open with an impressive volleyball victory

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Stanford scores early, often in opener versus UCD

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

New coach, new tougher league for DHS football

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Coach likes what she sees from Devil field hockey squad

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD notebook: Coaches positive about FCS schools ‘playing up’

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Aggie harriers secure season-opening sweep

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Baseball roundup: Cats win late to pull even with Aces

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Comings and Goings: Is fro-yo craze melting?

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
Sutter Davis Hospital honored again as a ‘best place to work’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13

Engage3 attracts investment for shopping app

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A20

 
California growers can use MBI’s new bioinsecticide

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A20

Sudwerk, Davis Food Co-op join for ‘co-hop-eration’ brew

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A20 | Gallery

 
Community pools its purchasing power to reduce the cost of solar

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A20

.

Obituaries

Wanda P. Daley

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, August 31, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8