re: Cable TV Franchises
I am posting this thoughtful treatise on behalf of Ken Marsh. You
can see his previous offering on this issue by clicking here: Imminent
Negotiations for Cable Access for Neighborhood Councils.
You'll recall at a recent LANC Citywide Issues Group meeting that
we chose the Cable TV Franchise issue as one we wished to feature,
and Ken agreed to take the lead in this.
Here's what he came up with recently:
|As many of you know, I have been an advocate for designating the
neighborhood councils as cable TV access channel managers. I proposed
this over a year ago in my resolution seeking support for nc access
channels to be part of a new structure for cable TV public, education
and government (PEG)t access resources in the new franchises.
This all depends on those new franchises that are being worked out at
this time. Most nc boards have not taken up the cause for a variety of
reasons, among which are: the added responsibility on the shoulders of
an already overburdened and small cadre of volunteers; lack of
experience and familiarity with managing such resources; possible
resistance from community-based organizations (CBOs) that consider the
nc's too closely aligned to city government; etc.
There is also Angelinos for Equitable Access to Technology (AEAT) that
recently formed under the sponsorship of the California Public Interest
Research Group (CalPIRG). AEAT is made up of mostly unions, CBOs and a
few of us nc people. Through a sub-committee created to address public
access resources in the new franchises, a set of criteria for what are
being called “Community Media Development Centers (CMDC)” has been
drafted. The draft is inlcuded below for your information and comment.
It is still my hope that the nc's would play a major role in whatever
comes out of the franchise negotiations re: access resources. Nc's
would greatly benefit and I believe that guarantees benefits to all the
stakeholders. For those boards of nc's that are resistant to taking
this on because of the added work load, AEAT represents a movement that
could lead to cooperation between the nc's and independent community
groups in sharing the responsibilities of nc-based access cable TV
channel and webcasting resource.
Nc's are going to have to take the lead if cooperation is going to
work. We need to overcome the negative image that has grown over time
that many stakeholders have about nc governing boards -- we are seen as
made up of mostly people interested in their own power and who are not
facilitating the development of a grassroots voice in their
This is an outreach challenge on two major levels -- to recast that
negative image and to create a communications infrastructure that serves each of our local areas and, through interconnection, nc's
Read over AEAT's thoughtful work and let me know what you think. Your
input is important.
Criteria for “Community Media Development Centers (CMDC)”
[Working Draft by PEG Committee of Angelinos for Equitable Access to
• Responsible entity must be a not-for-profit organization (broadly
defined so as not to be limited to orgs that have received 501(c)(3)
status), an educational institution (including community colleges,
schools and libraries) or a community center
• Responsible entity must demonstrate that it has a strong,
well-established relationship with the community.
• Responsible entity must demonstrate that it has an existing
technology or media infrastructure or a solid plan for developing one.
• Responsible entity must develop a comprehensive outreach plan to
promote community awareness and utilization of the CMDC.
• Responsible entity must develop programs designed to promote the
creation and production of content that can be transmitted or streamed
to the community at large.
• Responsible entity must develop an educational plan to train
residents on how to exploit the electronic media resource that is
represented by the CMDC; such plan is encouraged to incorporate
partnerships with local educational institutions.
• The CMDC must have hours of operation that ensure residents will have
access to the facility during daytime, evening and weekend hours.
• The CMDC must have adequate space to accommodate a studio suitable
for the production and/or recording of electronic content.
• The CMDC must be ADA compliant. Additionally, the responsible entity
should work with the cable franchisee to ensure, to the maximum extent
possible, that the facilities are accessible for hearing-, visually-
and physically-impaired individuals.
• Responsible entity must convene a community advisory committee with
representatives who reflect the diversity of the local community; the
advisory community should have genuine input into the operations and
activities of the CMDC.
~ Ken Marsh
Please take a careful look at the paper Ken previously wrote below, and feel free to
pass it on as you see fit.
Yours in service,
Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council
NOTE: Please also see all about the Cable
TV Franchise Audit produced on May 19, 2005, by LA City Controller,
Actions re: Cable TV Franchises
To neighborhood council boards and members of AEAT:
way of explanation:
for Equitable Access to Technology (AEAT) is a consortium of Los
Angeles groups and organizations that have come together to advocate
for the public interest in the upcoming cable TV franchises renewals.
was formed under the leadership of the California Public Interest
Group (CALPIRG). Among the participating groups are the National
Hispanic Media Coalition, Communications Workers of America, American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Community Technology
Organizing Consortium, and Community Partners, to name just some.
council representatives have also contributed to defining the
group's principles and goals statement, which is included below
with a response form to indicate your support.
full support for the goals of Angelenos for Equitable Access to
Technology (AEAT) and wanting to see them realized, we, the undersigned,
believe the neighborhood councils should play a significant role
in this effort.
AEAT members are active in neighborhood councils and know full
well the neighborhood councils' strengths and shortcomings. Neighborhood
councils are still in a formative phase and we as residents of
the City of Los Angeles have the opportunity and responsibility
to help them grow and to make them work, just as we owe it to
make sure AEAT's goals are realized.
neighborhood council system represents public access to city government.
councils are the open door to City Hall that has been mandated
by L.A. City charter. The councils are broadly envisioned as the
voices of the grassroots -- neighborhood people. AEAT member groups
are from among and in service to those neighborhood people.
believe the reinvigoration of our democracy in this city depends
on joining with and taking advantage of all interested groups
and, that includes the neighborhood councils.
neighborhood councils are an opportunity for directly accessing
and more effectively influencing city officials and the conduct
has been impeding us all is a lack of participation.
are advocating for actively using our neighborhood councils in
the effort to establish genuine equitable access to technology
in the City of Los Angeles.
to city government and access to technology is one fight.
the councils, a reminder worth repeating:
council power in citywide issues has been substantial and is growing.
forty councils held back a DWP rate increase last year. A memorandum
of understanding (MOU) between the DWP and the councils is in
final stages and will be a model of MOUs for all city departments.
policy adopted by the City to demand a low-cost tier of cable
TV service for low-income subscribers was the direct result of
a neighborhood council initiative.
neighborhood council advocacy, for example, for a role in community
planning and for initiating actions in the City Council by the
grassroots, can change the way things get done at City Hall. Grassroots
power can only increase as we strengthen the neighborhood councils.
non-governmental organizations (NGO) and non-profits based in
local communities, the neighborhood councils are part of city
government. They are governed by elected boards who are subject
to the California State Brown Act to insure things are done in
the open. Members of the boards cannot participate in deliberating
on issues in which they have a personal financial stake.
person who lives, works and/or owns property in the neighborhoods
within a council area is a member of that council. Those of voting
age elect fellow stakeholders to a governing board in council-wide,
periodic elections. Everyone can attend board and committee meetings
at which they can raise issues and have their say.
governing board manages a council's business and is beholden to
speak for the stakeholders. A board member represents the public
interest, not his/her own or other private or special interests.
Board members are unpaid, volunteer, municipal office holders.
council has an annual budget of $50,000. to use for operating
expenses. Councils are limited by the city in the use of that
money and in efforts to raise money to add to it.
council power is advisory, not law-making. Advisory power depends
greatly on the level of activism of the stakeholders. Councils
include populations numbering in the tens of thousands, but to
date very, very small percentages attend meetings and vote in
America the most widely exercised democratic right is to ignore
democracy. This goes for all levels of government. The neighborhood
councils' low participation rates should not be singled out and
viewed as a failure of this new grassroots layer of municipal
government anymore than should we conclude that city, state and
federal low voter turnout makes them impotent.
the City Council district representatives a neighborhood council
advisory can influence the council person from whose district
it comes. As numerous neighborhood councils in a council district
weigh in on an issue expressing a common view, influence is increased.
When multiple district representatives receive advisories of a
common view from their neighborhood councils, policy can be shaped.
more people with a greater range of self interest that get active
in a neighborhood council and populate its board and committees,
the more vital the public-interest voice.
neighborhood councils are not only an open door to City Hall,
but also to the grassroots. It is up to us to energize two-way
traffic through this doorway.
councils' role in equitable access to technology:
issue of equitable access to technology is in focus today in Los
Angeles because the renewing of cable TV franchises is in progress.
for Equitable Access to Technology (AEAT) is made up of community
organizations committed to various degrees to develop media resources
to enhance the flow of information and provide education and employment
opportunities in their communities. Media-related unions have
also helped frame AEAT principles and goals, addressing local
as well as national level issues.
AEAT statement of principles and goals (below) treats neighborhood
councils as one of a number of potential beneficiaries of resources
and services the group seeks.
explained above, the neighborhood councils are not on the same
footing as the community organizations and unions. Neighborhood
councils' connection to city government, though in some ways limiting,
serves as an open and pre-determined path to all 15 City Council
district members and to the mayor and all city departments.
the goals of AEAT are to be practically realized, neighborhood
management of access technology needs to be established throughout
the city. This can be done by placing the responsibility with
the neighborhood councils, which by mandate must provide access
to and participation in the management of the resources by community
every neighborhood council board, the responsibility can be handled
by creating a standing Access Technology Committee with local
access technology proponents as members. Each neighborhood council
can fashion its own structure to meet the responsibilities of
managing the access technology resources entrusted to it.
a citywide basis, the Access Technology Committees can collaborate
on working together with the city and cable TV companies to address
and resolve issues regarding operations of technology resources
is incumbent on the neighborhood councils to get involved in defining
and playing a role in our city's technology infrastructure. We
have the right, the mandate and the circumstance is at hand with
the renewal of the cable TV franchises.
members are the stakeholders who are knowledgeable and committed
to equitable access to technology. We need to work together.
councils: When you reply to Jennette Gayer using the form below,
please indicate your support of the contents of this email.)
Second vice chair
Zone 3 Director
Mar Vista Community Council
Co-chair, Governing Board
Region 2 Representative
Silver Lake Neighborhood Council
Public Safety Committee chair
Citywide Alliance liaison
Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council
Neighborhood Council of Valley Village
Van Nuys Neighborhood Council
West Hills Neighborhood Council
Founder, "Your Neighborhoood Council"
Radio and cable TV programming
Angelenos for Equitable Access to Technology
cable companies use of Los Angeles public streets and airwaves
gives Angelenos a vested interest in the development and use of
a cable TV and Internet system that benefits us all.
growth of information technology, including cable TV and the Internet,
has created a public information technology infrastructure, upon
which we all depend.
view of the upcoming cable contract negotiations, Angelenos for
Equitable Access to Technology is launching a campaign to raise
public awareness and promote public participation in determining
the immediate and long-term future of our information technology
infrastructure in the City of Los Angeles.
Cities Cable Contract must help:
and Workers - Consumers and workers must be treated fairly.
Consumers in all contract areas must have the right to
receive dependable, high-quality cable services that are guaranteed
by a strong consumer bill of rights.
Low income, senior or disabled consumers must receive discounted
Cable companies must respect workers rights to unionize.
Cable companies must provide employees with a living wage
and benefits that support healthy families
Cable companies must provide the training and reporting
required to ensure safe and quality service.
Cable companies must strive to have a diverse workforce,
representative of the population they serve including disenfranchised
populations, welfare to work workers, and non-violent ex-offenders.
Cable companies must provide unbundled services.
In exchange for their work on city streets cable companies
currently pay Los Angeles 5% of their revenue from cable TV services.
In the future this fee should be paid on all cable servicestelevision
Free Expression - freedom of choice and diversity of expression
must be safeguarded wherever cable companies operate.
Consumers must have freedom to access content.
Consumers must have freedom to use applications.
Consumers must have freedom to attach personal devices.
Consumers must have freedom to full disclosure of products
Community - Los Angeles Cable contracts must benefit our community.
More money and resources collected from cable companies
must be reinvested in communities by providing:
Cable services, including Cable TV and the Internet must
be free to schools, health organizations, neighborhood councils,
community organizations, micro enterprises and other public benefit
Support for community technology and media work, closing
the digital divide, and improving civic engagement with technology.
Los Angeles must create a Technology Trust Fund
with cable company money to help fund community technology initiatives.
Community channels need to be reorganized so that they
are more accessible, relevant, on demand and city wide. For example:
rather than maintaining studios every city library could be outfitted
with digital cameras, editing equipment, a wireless hotspot, on
demand storage, and computers with staff available to train community
members and neighborhood councils in production and posting.
All Community media posted on the internet must be available
to anyone at anytime.
The technologies that cable companies supply to develop
media must be high quality and current.
Los Angeles must maintain control of all the bandwidth
available in the original community channels; this will provide
more space for neighborhood council and community broadcasting.
Los Angeles must have adequate storage for public Video
Cable companies must help pay for equipment and training
that will aide public participation.
Yes! I/we support the demands put forth by Angelenos for Equitable
Access to Technology. Add me/my organization to the official supporter
list. Please fax this form to 213-251-3699
& Title (print) ______________________________________________
can also help in the following ways:
materials ___Turn out ___people for an event
___Place a newsletter article ___Host an educational event
___Sign a letter to the editor ___Attend a city hall hearing
Please fax this form to:
For more information contact:
Jennette Gayer, CALPIRG