WATPA: FW: [municable] [PRESS RELEASE] Binghamton Man Sues Time Warner O ver Public Access

From: Ching Wah Chin (chingwah.chin@cityofyonkers.com)
Date: Fri May 02 2003 - 09:30:03 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-----
From: Bill Huston [mailto:bhuston@mu.clarityconnect.net]
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2003 10:40 PM
To: press@mu.clarityconnect.net
Subject: [municable] [PRESS RELEASE] Binghamton Man Sues Time Warner Over
Public Access

After May 1, 2003


Binghamton, NY -- "I just want to make TV shows", says Bill Huston,
"but they won't let me". Time Warner Cable, that is. Huston has been
trying for several years to take equipment certification classes,
and use Time Warner's studios to make a live TV show. But Time Warner
says they are not obliged to under the law, or their contract with the
municipality. Huston disagrees, and filed a lawsuit last Friday which
seeks an injunction and three million dollars in damages.

"This is about a matter of principle", says plaintiff Huston, who is suing
without legal representation, "and those principles are free speech,
information diversity, and right of a community to locally originated
programming, not created by the government or to benefit corporations".

"The arrogance of these cable giants is incredible. Time Warner Cable has
been the monopoly cable provider in the area since 1995, and their partner
Newchannels Corp since 1978. As far as I can determine, they have never
been compliant with Public Access requirements", Huston alleges. "And
the NY PSC not only does not enforce the present law, but now they're
rewarding these giants for such lousy service by giving them a 15 year
franchise, and the rest of the metaphorical farm. It's outrageous."

The New York State Public Service Commission was just in Binghamton on
Monday for hearings on proposed rule changes which would be a "grab bag
giveaway" to the cable industry, according to Thomas J. Hillgardner,
a NYC based attorney which specializes in Public Access law. Huston and
about a dozen others spoke to oppose the rule changes.

Huston, who runs the website www.BinghamtonPublicAccess.org, cites the
present rules which require a dedicated Public Access channel. Time
Warner Cable's Binghamton division provides only a combined Public +
Education and Government channel. Under the new rules, only a combined
channel is required.

"What good are these rules if there is no enforcement mechanism," Huston
asked at the Monday hearings. "The local provider has failed to obey the
law for at least 20 years, maybe more, and the PSC keeps renewing their
franchise like everything's A-OK. What kind of abuses does it take to get
to act? Does the PSC make even the most basic audit before granting a
franchise? Who do these people represent, anyway?"

Volume 9 of the New York Code Rules and Regulations, part 595.5 also
states they are obligated to provide "facilities and equipment" to use
the Public Access channel capacity. Time Warner provides only a video
playback device. "What about the people that don't own a camcorder? Seems
like a camera is necessary, and they don't provide one", Huston says.

"I've pretty much exhausted all my available remedies, short of a
lawsuit", Huston explains. "No one is interested. Not the City, not the
PSC, not the Attorney General, and certainly not Time Warner. So now,
it's up to the courts to decide."

The complaint is here:

     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For more information about this press release, contact the
Binghamton Public Access Coalition: phone: 607-724-1755,
or by email: tvinfo@BinghamtonPublicAccess.org , or visit

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