OH: Council agrees to oppose cable regulation bill

Posted on May 4, 2007 - 9:43am.

from: Marietta Times

Council agrees to oppose cable regulation bill

By Sam Shawver, sshawver@mariettatimes.com

Following some discussion, Marietta’s City Council on Thursday adopted a resolution opposing a bill in the Ohio Senate that provides for state regulation of local cable franchises.

Senate Bill 117, introduced on March 15, “would eliminate local franchise authority over cable and other video service providers that must use the city’s rights of way to provide service, and would replace that authority with only the most minimal oversight and enforcement powers by the Ohio Director of Commerce,” according to the resolution adopted by council.

“This would be a very poor bill, and would go against the home rule doctrine in the Ohio constitution,” said Councilwoman Judy Wray, D-3rd Ward, and chair of the special utilities committee.

“It would prohibit us from making local decisions regarding cable service,” she added.

The resolution also says the bill would reduce or eliminate public, educational, and governmental access channels as well as funding for those channels.

But Councilman Andy Thompson, R-At large, felt SB 117 could be a possible remedy for constantly escalating cable rates.

“I’m not convinced that things are going to get better if they stay as they are,” he said. “I think we need competition in this business.”

Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said the state bill would allow cable providers to use city rights-of-way without being charged a fee to do so.

“We couldn’t charge for use of the rights of way that taxpayers have paid for, and there wouldn’t be any ramifications for the companies,” he said. “And we don’t have the kind of (cable franchise) competition that they have in larger cities.”

The resolution was adopted by a 6 to 1 vote by council, with Thompson casting the dissenting vote.

Wray said the Council resolution is a communication to state representatives, telling them that Marietta City Council opposes the bill.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Ted Strickland, Sen. Joy Padgett, and to members of the Ohio Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

( categories: OHIO | State Franchises )