Sunday, February 26, 2012
Another “zombie” bill brought back to life over the weekend and aimed at public access tv funding
by Larry Geller
We asked you earlier this month, along with other blogs and advocates, to Help kill “zombie” bill, save public access television in Hawaii (2/5/2012).
It worked, but as you know, anything can happen at our State Legislature. And Zombie bills might even turn up again—nothing is sure until the final gavel is pounded.
Sure enough, public access TV funding is under attack again. And it’s another “zombie bill,” a bill that was dead but has been brought back to life again over the weekend.
Ian Lind covered the situation nicely in his article this morning:
HB2874 originally had a triple referral, but missed the deadline when neither the committee on economic development and business, or consumer protection and commerce, set it for a public hearing. But on February 16, it was re-referred as a single referral to the House Finance committee, and on Friday night it was scheduled for a hearing tomorrow.
[ilind.net, Legislative Alert: Bill to cut public/government access television gets stealth hearing, 2/27/2012]
Yeah, I know I should have written about it earlier, but I had things I really needed to do today. Sorry.
This bill would take away from public access TV in order to fund the state’s broadband project.
I have a few words to say about that, but first, may I ask you to please click the link and submit testimony as early as you can. Of course, I assume you would like to preserve `Olelo, Akaku and the other public access TV providers. Either way, you can send something.
On the status page, if you have clicked the link, there’s a button near the top marked “Submit testimony.” It gives you a space to type something in.
Ok, on to the issue of broadband.
The administration (and the Lingle administration before it) has made an almost obsessive case that Hawaii’s prosperity is hitched to broadband service. That’s not going to work.
Yes, faster service at home and better penetration in rural areas is nice, but neither of those contributes to the economy.
As to business, we don’t have many businesses that would require putting in the bureaucracy and unnecessary infrastructure that the administration is calling for. I’ll give you an illustrative example.
‘Way back in the 1980s the state was convinced that high-tech would come to Hawaii if only we had a high-tech “park.” Actually, it was probably an equal measure of the usual push by developers for more development on Oahu. In this case, it was Castle & Cooke that would benefit from state assistance in populating their Mililani tech park. One thing that happened was that Hawaiian Tel (GTE Hawaiian Tel? I can’t remember who they were then) was pressured to install a fiber-optic cable terminal in the park. Just like “broadband” is hot now with our government, “fiber-optics” was hot then.
So the equipment was installed.
I remember a meeting in 1989 when the High Tech Development Corp. asked the phone company why nothing was connected to the fiber optic terminal.
The answer was that all the services anyone had requested could be provided with ordinary copper wires.
In other words, there had been no demand for the fiber optic terminal.
Fast forward to today. Hawaii has some high-tech, more than in 1989, but there isn’t going to be any revolution if broadband services are improved. This island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is not going to become a haven for high-tech businesses.
Taking the money from public access television and making a gift to certain businesses is not good public policy, IMHO.
So please click that link and say something. You can also click the hearing notice at the lower right and see who is on the committee, and even call or email them, because time is short.
This bill died, and has been brought back to life. It’s clear that there are powerful forces trying to get that public access TV money. And how tricky they are, reviving a bill from the dead over the weekend. So grab a wooden stake and have at it.
as an alternative, people in Hawaii should tell the legislature if they want to play with the PEG revenues to legislate that the DCCA must collect all 5% permitted by federal law and not to exclude premium cable revenue (HBO, pay-per-view, etc.,) from their definition of revenue subject to PEG levy and to lift the Olelo cap/refund scheme. That would be a windfall to the tune of millions of dollars that can be directed towards broadband development without having to take anything away from the fragile PEGs.
PEG means Public - Education - Government, the three functions that public access television supports. It's not generally understood, so I prefer to just use "public access TV" instead.