New video bill would benefit Qwest, but hurt Washington State citizens and consumers

UPDATE: The legislative clock has run out on SB6003, the Qwest-backed video franchise bill which would have deepened the digital divide and limited funding streams for comunity TV. The bill is dead for this session, thanks in part to quick opposition by citizen and consumer groups.

Reclaim the Media headed down to Olympia to speak against a very bad new telecommunications bill, SB6003, which would open the door for Qwest and other telecom companies to provide cable-type video services to customers statewide - but on the company's terms. Their terms don't include fair support for PEG (public access, government and educational) TV programming, and they would seriously erode local customer accountability. Last but certainly not least, this corporate-sponsored bill would allow Qwest and other companies the right to "cherry-pick" the neighborhoods they want to provide the best services to, while skipping over less affluent or rural neighborhoods.

Speaking in favor of the bill at its first public hearing before the Senate Water, Energy and Telecommunications committee this week were representatives from Qwest and telecommunications industry lobbyists. Reclaim the Media codirector Karen Toering and policy advisor Michael Weisman spoke against the bill, along with a range of community leaders, public access TV advocates, local government representatives, and cable industry mouthpieces.

Info and full text of the bill here (pdf)
Reclaim the Media analysis here (pdf)

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey