This blog will feature highlights of programming by Falls Cable Access, a not-for-profit organization located in Menomonee Falls High School.
Well, the recent signing of AB207 by the Governor introduced the deregulation of the video provider industry to Wisconsin residents. In a nutshell this is what it will mean to Menomonee Falls residents. The Village is no longer able to deal directly with the cable company on it's franchise agreements for use of the right of ways and roads. Any video provider meeting minimal requirements will sign a franchise agreement with the state. We will no longer be able to negotiate any extra perks for the village or school districts, no free Internet for schools or library, and no system for enforcement of customer service.
The Senate and Assembly did try to enforce the addition of Major Sports networks like NFL Network and Big Ten Network to all providers, (Sounds regulatory to me) but they will lose a long legal battle on that one. The Governor however did make some changes. He did not allow for lifetime franchise agreements, as the bill was written and did give some ability to the governing body to enforce some quality control. Providers will no longer have to show they are providing service to everyone in the village as the cable companies have for 25 years. It is apparent already as they are targeting the more affluent areas of the state and ignoring low income and hard to reach places. The bill was introduced to give people a choice but I will guarantee that the guy living in Some Place Little, Wisconsin will still only have one choice years from now. The only difference is he won't be able to talk to a customer service rep here in state they will be talking to Bob in Pakistan.
I have received my literature from the provider that actually paid over 13 lobbyist to get this bill passed and find a lot of it confusing to those not technically inclined. Without going into detail, (which I will do on this blog eventually), the pricing plans read to show the largest difference in plans instead of feature for feature. They provide extra equipment but the small print says there is a limit to how much you can use at one time. They do not mention the inability to record more than 1 HD channel at a time and neglect to mention that the competitors HD channels are part of the digital package and no extra charge. They have some neat new features that are really only software upgrades that the competitor is rolling out soon. But the biggest difference between the packages which really are close in price, is that ....drum roll.......they can't provide PEG Channels 13 -14 & 25 to the viewers in Menomonee Falls. Not only will you not be connected to local community television but you will be paying a franchise fee that gets re-routed to the village. The State franchise agreement still allows for the 5% of gross receipts to be collected. I have already received calls from friends who jumped on the new system only to realize after the fact that they no longer have Channel 14. Their kids are complaining and now they feel trapped by the agreement the signed. Now in fairness the new provider can stream the PEG Channels in computer screen quality (Ugh) but we will have to pay to get it to them at a ridiculous expense. Currently there are no access channels in the state that feel the can afford to send the signal to the new providers head end.
For those looking to make an educated choice I will provide a fair comparison in coming weeks. The fact that you can't get the access channels won't change however. In a land of media giants it is imperative that we keep our access to the airwaves so that we can express ourselves and opinions like our legislators have failed to do.
NEW ON CHANNEL 14
Because of the Christmas break the construction crews took advantage of the empty halls and the studio has been rendered useless for awhile. However all of our shows are making plans for new installments. The Community Christmas Card will still run for a week and there is hope that more School concerts will come in this week.
We are planning a couple of Sunday Theme Days coming up to help clear out the server for new programming. Look for a day of Army Newswatch Shows dating back to October of 2005, a day of Reel Movie Talk from 2007, Parade Day will cover the last 3 years of Memorial Day, Independence Day and the Christmas Parades. We will also show some timely episodes of FOCUS on Our Children and Village Voices from past years.
As Always...Stay Tuned!