WATPA: FW: New York State PSC Changes - Outline for comments

From: Ching Wah Chin (chingwah.chin@cityofyonkers.com)
Date: Fri Apr 11 2003 - 09:55:42 EDT

Ching Wah Chin
Sr. Assoc. Corp. Counsel
City of Yonkers Law Department
City Hall 300
Yonkers, NY 10701
(914) 377-6224 voc
(914) 964-0563 fax

-----Original Message-----
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 11:15:25 -0400
Subject: FW: New York State PSC Changes - Outline for comments
From: Steve Mendelsohn <Steve@mnn.org>
To: David Bronston <dbronston@wolfblock.com>,
   Stuart Shorenstein <SShorenstein@wolfblock.com>
CC: Chuck Sherwood <chuck.sherwood@verizon.net>

Fyi, below is the information I sent out to all MNN producers, staff, Board
members and BCAT, BronxNet, and QPAT Executive Directors.

Chuck, what is the most effective way of getting this information out to
interested parties in NY State? Should I send it to the Alliance ListServe=


The New York State Public Service Commission is considering changes to the
rules affecting cable and public access. Some of these changes are
detrimental to public access.

I encourage you to submit comments to the PSC in support of access.
Comments are due by April 21.

Attached are 2 documents:

1. An outline of suggested comments and information on how to respond (in
2. A copy of the PSC press release concerning these issues (in PDF format)


Additonally, I have pasted a copy of the Word document into this email


Comments are due by April 21

The following is a suggested outline for responding to the proposed changes
to the Public Service Commission=B9s cable rules:

1. In your own words explain who you are and why public access is important
to you.

2. New York has been at the forefront of requiring a public access
commitment from the cable companies. We are concerned that several of the
proposed changes will effectively whittle away that commitment. An exampl=
is the proposal to allow the cable operator and the city to reduce the
current standard of one public access channel and one "EG" (educational and
governmental) channel to one combined channel. In addition, we are concerne=
that the rules allow the municipality and the cable operator to jointly
agree to do away completely with PEG channels. That is unacceptable.

3. The entity responsible for the administration of the public access
channels (the =B3Community Access Organization=B2) must be involved in any
discussions materially affecting PEG access. The proposed rules contemplat=
that such decisions will be made only by the franchising authority and the
cable operator. These decisions include:
a. 895.1(o)(3): Determination of whether PEG support is part of the
franchise fee
b. 895.4(b)(1): Determination of whether PEG requirement is met by a singl=
c. 895.4(b)(11): Determination of carriage of PEG channels on a tier other
than the lowest level of service
d. 895.4(f)(4): Waiver of the minimum number of PEG channels through joint
petition of franchising authority and cable operator
Public access is a vital community resource that supports the values of a
democratic society. As a service of particular benefit to the public and
not necessarily in the interest of the franchising authority and the cable
operator, it would be extremely unfortunate if the public and the Community
Access Organizations were not given the opportunity to participate in
decisions that affecting this vital resource.

4. If anything, the minimum number of PEG channels (Section 895.4(b)(1)) ha=
not kept up with technological developments in terms of digital bandwidth o=
greater channel capacity of modern, state of the art cable systems. There
is more capacity for public access today, not less, and it would be
reasonable not to reduce the commitment to public access by allowing the PE=
requirement to be met by a single channel or by waiving the minimum number
of channels.

5. Moving PEG channels to a tier other than the lowest level of service
(Section 895.4(b0(11)) is contrary to the intent and spirit of public
access. Public access is meant to be a widely available service that
reaches a wide range of citizens. It is supposed to provide an opportunity
for those who are not appropriately represented by the mainstream media, to
have a place where their First Amendment rights can be exercised. If it is
moved to a higher (more costly) tier of service, then it will exclude
members of the public who cannot afford cable service above the basic tier =
and those citizens are precisely the ones who public access was meant to
benefit the most. =20

6. The maximum term allowable for a franchise is proposed to be increased t=
15 years (Section 895.1(g)). On the one hand, this is a long time for
access organizations in terms of projecting future funding and technologica=
developments and channel use. On the other, it enables PEG to secure
funding and rights for a longer period of time. (Depending on your opinion
and the particular situation in your municipality, you may or may not want
to comment on this in your response.)

7. We support the proposed change in Section 895.1(f) requiring that any PE=
requirements in excess of the minimum must be matched by all cable
franchises in the municipality.

8. Close by pointing out that with the emergence of media mergers and
technology convergence, public access channels must continue to provide
communities with a diverse, independent and local voice. At a time when the
Federal Communications Commission is seeking to allow for even more media
consolidation by relaxing rules on broadcast ownership, the ability of a
local population to access the media through a resource like MNN is
absolutely vital.

More information can be obtain at www.dps.state.ny.us

Also, the attach press release provides information on how you can comment.
Options include:

- Mailing written statements, using the below procedures:

1. All comments should be on 8 _ " by 11" paper, double spaced and 11
point fonts. Any comments over 40 pages should be on both sides of the page=

2. Comments can be in the form of a letter. It must have on the first
page a reference to this case number (i.e. Re: Case No. 01-V-0381). You
must also provide your name, address and telephone number. It should be
signed in ink. You should send an original and five copies by regular mail
(not fax or email) to:

                    Secretary Janet Deixler
                    NYS Public Service Commission
                    3 Empire State Plaza
                    Albany, NY 12223-1350.

- Calling a toll-free number (1-800-335-2120, press #2)
- Internet comments at the above referenced website

Steve Mendelsohn
Executive Director
Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN)
(212) 757-2670, ext. 324

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