AT&T Accused of Discriminating Against Local Public Access Channels

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by chappy87, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #2
    I do not really see what the problem is. AT&T should have the right to decide which channels it wants to include. If customers do not like it they can switch to satellite or over the air.
     
  2. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #3
    not completely true there. It brings to question what are the rules and it is discrimination against those channels. I think it is rather low of ATT to do it. not like it cost them anything to give them a dedicated number.
     
  3. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #4
    It does cost them money though. Cable lines can only handle so much bandwidth. With the increase in HD broadcasts and On Demand they have to leave space for those signals. Therefore they must pick and choose there line up.

    Since more customers are clamoring for the other channels like TLC, Nickelodeon, MTV, BBC etc... than public access, they are going to opt for the stations that attract more customers. I am sure they would love to switch out some of the other channels for public access. As the public access is free for them while the commercial ones they have to pay the station owners distribution fees. i.e. Comcast fee dispute with Viacom.

    The main cost which comes into play is how many customers will AT&T lose by adding public access and dropping say some of the secondary Discovery networks or by increasing rates to cover infrastructure enhancements for the increased signal load.

    These channels should be happy that they get any air time, no one is entitled to something for nothing. As the saying goes, "beggars can't be choosers".
     
  4. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    Location:
    OBJECTIVE reality
    #5
    As someone who works in government/public access, I have a dog in this race. I also have a closer view of it than most people.

    Here are some observations:

    What you saw in the video is factually correct. Years ago, the FCC used to mandate that local TV stations carry a certain amount of local content. That, like the Fairness Doctrine, vanished over the years. However unlike the Fairness Doctrine (which has never been adequately replaced by anything), local PEG (public/educational/government) channels appeared to fill the local void.

    The last couple of years, however, companies like AT&T and Time-Warner have sought legislation which benefits them but reduces options for subscribers. New rules allow cable companies like Time-Warner, which used to sign agreements to serve individual communities, to sign franchise agreements with entire states instead.

    One thing this means to the consumer is that if you don't like the way your cable company is operating, you no longer have anyone in your local government to complain to. My boss at present fields complaints from subscribers who are not able to receive satisfaction going through the cable company's usual channels. As often as not, these complaints are justified. (And sometimes there is no subscriber complaint; sometimes the companies just try to pull a fast one, like moving channel locations around when their local franchise agreement says they can't.)

    The upshot of the conversion to state franchises is that if you have a complaint, you have to find someone on the state level to complain to. In Ohio, for those of us who live near Cleveland, this means Columbus. Frankly, we don't trust this situation. It's not only a matter of distance. It was obvious to us from the beginning that the GOP majority which approved this was in the pocket of the telecoms. How much satisfaction do you think you're going to get from the people who put you in this situation in the first place?

    In our own case, the state franchise which passed in Ohio still doesn't kick in until later this year. But there is a landmine built in. If the cable company (like Time-Warner) can prove that there is sufficient state-wide competition (U-Verse, Dish Network, etc.), they can scrap local agreements immediately and replace them with the state one.

    To us, this literally could make our access center homeless. We have a local agreement to operate our TV studio in the same building as the cable company. We figured we could very well lose that when the state franchise kicks in later this year, and we have been looking at alternate locations -- but if the landmine goes off before that, we could literally find ourselves kicked out immediately.

    Too, the telecoms fought hard to get the PEG channels in Ohio banished into "digital Siberia", as the one woman put it. Right now viewers get them as part of their basic service; on a digital tier, people would have to pay extra to see them. We've been lucky to have successfully fought this so far, but in some places PEG channels have vanished from cable and are now only viewable via streaming video on the internet.

    Add to this the problems the video mentioned, of not being able to record shows on a DVR, etc., and you have numerous reasons not to like systems like this.

    This has been going on all over the country. On a state-by-state basis, companies have been spending a lot of money to get legislation passed to allow them to do things like this. This is hardly something which consumers are demanding.
     
  5. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #6
    Minus the fact that there are 999 none HD channels on Uverse and the entire system is a demand based system. The extra channels do not add any extra band width. Each customer can pull 4 different channels at one time (2 max being HD). The entire system is internet based.

    So it does not cost them any thing extra because they are not using 100's of channels in the first 999. Lets not forget they have 9999 total channels to use.
     
  6. joeshell383 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2006
    #7
    No, the public access policies and precedents of cable/sat need to be extended to iptv.
     
  7. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #8
    The problem is that Cable companies are forced to have PEG channels. AT&T is not forced to the same rules as cable companies, yet they are allowed to compete in the same markets.
     
  8. Shivetya macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    #9
    Like hell.

    Quit forcing me to pay for your ****. If a government wants to be on cable/sat/etc they can pay to spread their propaganda. Unless they subsidize the installations they have no say.
     
  9. rpaloalto macrumors 6502a

    rpaloalto

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    Location:
    Palo Alto CA.
    #10
    Threats too, and the disappearance of, public access channels. Was the point of the thread. Not, Hey. At&T is no longer going to carry, ''the young republican's channel''
     
  10. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #11
    You do realize that public access is a FCC mandate that all cable companies have to fund. It is not just political but community programing. Peg access is government community and educational access.
     
  11. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2004
    Location:
    OBJECTIVE reality
    #12
    A large number of the cities that have PEG are relatively small like mine (30,000), and I doubt they have a need for "propaganda".

    The government programming tends to be things like City Council meetings, which we are not allowed to edit, so there goes your propaganda argument there. If we have an issue on the ballot, we are only allowed to inform, we cannot advocate for or against, so there goes your argument again. And government channels have come in very, very handy when communities go through things like floods, which we did a few years back.

    Public access programming, which is a free speech issue and which we are also not allowed to censor, can be a source of propaganda, but it's open to everyone. And, truth to tell, the biggest users are usually churches and community groups. What "propaganda" there is tends to be of the propeller-beanie/tin foil hat variety -- wackos looking for attention.
     
  12. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #13

    The iffy issue here is that AT&T U-verse isn't cable or satellite. It's IPTV, and, as of right now, there are no laws regarding IPTV and Public Access.
     
  13. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #14
    I know, but people were complaining about why it is funded at all.
     
  14. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #15
    I wonder why ATT would completely bury these local channels? There doesn't seem to be a good reason for it. If you can get the local stations normally on Uverse, why wouldn't you be able to get the public channels in the same manner? As someone mentioned before, it can't be much of an extra cost to them, especially not at the risk of Government intervention.
     

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