Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Mayor dislikes cable proposal

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz released a
statement Friday expressing his concerns with the newly passed video
franchise bill — a bill that would transfer the power to grant
video franchises from local municipalities to state government.

Under current law, local governments
handle revenue-sharing agreements and local municipalities control
video franchises through revenue sharing agreements that require
cable companies to pay certain franchise fees and provide citywide

The video franchise bill, passed by the
state Senate last Thursday, would redistribute this power to the


In the release, Cieslewicz said the
bill "is bad for Wisconsin consumers, school districts and

The bill phases out funding for public
educational and government television programming over the next three

"[Public access programming] is a
good example of open government. Constituents can watch Assembly
meetings on TV," said George Twigg, communications director for
Cieslewicz. "The bill undermines that."

In his release, Cieslewicz also
commended Senate President Fred Risser, D-Madison, for voting against
the bill.

"I think the bill is bad public
policy because it does not support governmental and educational
stations," Risser said.

The video franchise bill aims to
increase competition and give consumers lower prices. Risser and
Cieslewicz have expressed concern about how "consumer friendly"
the bill is.

"In my opinion, it does not help
competition," Risser said. "It does not require [cable companies]
to go into service areas that are not profitable."

Risser said AT&T hired full-time
lobbyists to push the bill because they "don’t want to be bothered
by local franchises."

"The bill is really unnecessary,"
Twigg said. "There is nothing preventing AT&T from entering
Wisconsin service areas."

Cieslewicz said the bill "hampers the
ability of local communities to control their rights of way and
provides no meaningful consumer protection."

With video franchising power in the
hands of local governments, Twigg said constituents have a local
resource to contact if problems arise with their cable company.

"If your cable went out and you are
trying to get a credit with the cable company, you would try to talk
to someone local," Twigg said. "In the state government, getting
help might be harder."

Last spring, the video franchise bill
passed in the Assembly. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed the
bill with a 23-9 vote Thursday. The Assembly will soon discuss the
Senate’s amendments to the bill.

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