How You Can Help Fight for Better Local Media

by Sydney Levy on March 9, 2005

Editors Note: Beyond Chron has been covering the rapidly growing battle over San Francisco’s renegotiation of their contract with cable provider Comcast.

The lines have been drawn, with better community media, lower cable rates, increased access to the Internet for low-income people and non-profits, and a whole bunch more at stake. Want to get involved? Here are four things you can do.

1. Call for the Release of Funds to Study Feasibility of MUNICIPAL
BROADBAND UTILITY DEADLINE: Tuesday, March 8 at 1.30 PM

Supervisor Ammiano has called for the creation of a Municipal
Broadband Infrastructure. This new public utility could provide
high-speed Internet and cable service to San Franciscans at a reduced rate and be a real competition to Comcast and other telecomm monopolies. The fist step in the creation of this public utility is the implementation of a feasibility study.

There will be a hearing tomorrow to approve a $300,000 appropriation to fund this study. The hearing will be at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on March 8, 2005 at 1:30 PM in Room 400 in City Hall (not the PUC Building)! The item is #15 on the agenda, so it might be some time before the actual item is heard.

If you cannot come it, you can still have your voice heard. Please
call the PUC Commissioners and Susan Leal (new General Manager of PUC) before the hearing and ask them to approve the funds for the feasibility study. Here are the phone numbers and names:

Susan Leal – 554-3160

You can contact all the PUC Commissioners through the PUC Commission secretary at 554-3165

President: Richard Sklar
Ann Moller Caen
Dennis Normandy
Adam Werbach
Ryan Brooks

2. San Francisco Has Released the Blueprint for Its COMMUNITY NEEDS ASSESSMENT PLAN. Give Us Your Feedback.
DEADLINE: Friday, March 11, EOF Day

The dates for the community needs assessment have been finally set by City Hall. There will be public meetings from the week of April 18 to the week of June 6. Below you will see the plan in two tables (types of meetings and meetings per week).

The good news is that there will be at least one public meeting per supervisorial district. The bad news is that the specific times and places have not been set up yet.

The plan is available at http://mediasf.org/index.php/articles/141We are seeking your feedback on three issues:

a. Is there anything missing from the plan? For example, is there any community or relevant group that is missing?

b. Are you satisfied with the weight of the meetings overall? For
example, the City’s plan calls for one meeting with consumer
advocates, one with labor advocates, three with arts and culture
groups, and seven with education groups, etc. Is this the right
proportion?

c. Any other feedback you may have is welcome as well.

Please send your questions and comments by the end of the week to sydney@media-alliance.org). I will answer the questions as best I can, and I will compile and forward any comments to the City’s Department of Telecommunication and Information Services. Thanks!

3. Come to Next HEARINGS AND COMMUNITY MEETINGS

HEARINGS: There will be a hearing at the Land Use Committee (City Hall, Room 263) on March 23rd at 1 pm, dealing with the SF cable refranchising and a draft city ordinance sponsored by Supervisor Peskin on consumer protections for cable customer. The draft of the ordinance is available in MS Word format at
http://mediasf.org/index.php/articles/142.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS: SF Media Advocates is planning additional community meetings. We are trying to work with the schedule that was recently developed by City Hall. Please come to our website (http://www.mediasf.org), where we will post information about upcoming meetings.

4. OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP RIGHT NOW

SEND EMAILS AND POST FLYERS: We need your help to get the word out. As the dates of the community meetings firm up, we’d like to ensure a good turnout because we will use them as forums for public information, exchange of ideas, and gathering of data for the community needs assessment. You can find background information in our website (http://www.mediasf.org/), which is now updated regularly. You will also find there updated downloadable flyers in pdf format. We can also provide you with text to send via email to your friends and your lists.

TALK TO OTHERS: Flyers and emails are great, but nothing works like word of mouth. Please help us by calling two or three people or
organizations. Let them know, invite them to our community meetings. We can help you with materials and follow-up.

COME TO THE COMMUNITY MEETINGS AND BRING OTHERS WITH YOU: Without strong public participation, the City will not be equipped to negotiate a fair agreement with cable giant Comcast!

HELP US SET UP MORE COMMUNITY MEETINGS: Some of you have suggested meetings in other neighborhoods. Please get in contact with me with concrete locations and contact information for me to follow up.

JOIN OUR COALITION: Join San Francisco Media Advocates, the coalition of local organizations working to maximize public input into the San Francisco cable franchise renewal process.

MORE INFO AND QUESTIONS
Go to http://www.mediasf.org/

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