Cable TV Bill Streamlines Access, But Public Access Channels Could Go Dark

The Idaho Senate voted Thursday to streamline the way cable TV companies enter local markets, but the bill could jeopardize funding for the Treasure Valley’s public access station.  

For several years, supporters of Treasure Valley Community Television resisted efforts to change the way their public access channels are funded.  The fight continued this legislative session.  Backers say money for the public access station would be cut.  Each local, cable subscriber is billed ten cents to fund the Treasure Valley station, but the Senate-passed bill doesn’t mention this fee. 

TVCTV Board President Bob Neal is optimistic.  He says his public access channels won’t go dark anytime soon.  "We’re going to be able to keep operating for at least the next year and more a matter of us figuring out ways to make up the difference that we may lose."

The bill also allows cable companies to apply for a statewide franchise before entering local markets.  These companies will no longer negotiate with each county and city in Idaho before providing service to one local area.  Supporters of the bill say this will increase access to broadband services.  The legislation now goes to the Governor for his consideration. 

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