Subject: Senate Bill 2686
Urgent action is needed now to stop or amend S.2686, The Communications Consumers’ Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006, formerly called, the COPE bill, (Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act).
A final vote is expected this month, in July, very soon. Please call and/or send an email and make a difference. You can cut & paste these talking points, or draft your own letter. The saveaccess.org link listed below has a letter already written for you to send: http://tinyurl.com/k5b58. Other links for calling and emailing are listed below.
There are over 200 proposed amendments to the bill, however, THE SEVEN POINTS BELOW are considered essential to a strong, independent public media sector in the U.S.
Senate Bill 2686: The Communications, Consumers’ Choice, and Broadband
Deployment Act of 2006 should
1) guarantee the protection of local ‘rights of way’ and municipal
control of these public spaces.
2) ensure strong net neutrality provisions to protect the internet.
3) guarantee strong ‘build-out’ provisions to prevent red-lining of
communities based on geography and income.
4) protect the right of municipalities to provide broadband and video
5) protect Public, Educational and Governmental channels (public access
TV) and facilities and their current funding levels.
6) promote wider public use of unlicensed spectrum.
7) expand Low Power FM radio licensing.
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D R A F T L E T T E R
As an advocate for free speech, local control and public access to communications networks I am concerned about the content and progress of the Communications, Consumers Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act (S. 2686) introduced by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and slated for mark-up on June 22nd.
As currently drafted, I stand in opposition to the bill.
S. 2686 is largely the work of Verizon, AT&T, Bell South and Qwest (the remaining national phone companies) who want to quickly expand and enter the video services market (also known as cable TV) by bypassing key open access and public interest provisions of the 1934 Communications Act (Title II and Title VI). As currently written, S.2686 will NOT make good on the promises of increased competition, lower rates, better service, more choices or expanded high speed internet access for rural consumers.
I urge you to amend S.2686 to:
1) Establish enforceable protections for network neutrality – i.e. require video service providers to allow competitors to use their networks. Without these protections, meaningful competition will not occur.
2) Explicitly outlaw redlining of franchise service areas on the basis of income or geographic location (Section 642).
3) Maintain local government control over the public rights of way so that they can continue to set the terms and conditions for consumer protections and existing levels of PEG access support (Section 331).
4) Allow municipalities to enter directly into the broadband and video services business — without waiting for approval from the private sector. (Sections 501 & 502)
5) Protect public speech on video networks through the preservation of public, educational and government (PEG) access bandwidth and funding.
– Maintain local authority over PEG requirements and guarantee that PEG uses will be defined by local community needs and interests.
– Remove proposed limits (1%) on PEG funding (Section 331)
– Adopt the detailed changes advocated by the Alliance for Community Media
Without these amendments, I urge you to vote NO on S.2686.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.