Letter: Support needed for community television bill

To the Editor:

Trumbull’s representatives to Connecticut’s General Assembly, David Rutigliano and Laura Devlin, recently introduced HR643, An Act Concerning Community Access Television, a bill that seeks to “stabilize funding for Public Access Television.”

Today cable television subscribers fund community or public access television because cable programming is transmitted through wires using the public right of way and because federal statute provides that a nominal percentage of each month’s cable payment be set aside to assure the continuity of public access programming.

HB6437 provides that a similar nominal percentage of broadband Internet subscription revenues also be allocated to supporting public access because it too uses the public right of way.

Public Access Programming affords community residents access to the public airwaves and supplements existing education and government programming provided by Trumbull Community Television cable channels 194 (Charter) and 99 (Frontier). Trumbull’s public access is a regional service produced in Charter’s Newtown studio (192 on their system; 99 on Frontier).

Public access television is created by and for residents of a community. It becomes an outlet for viewing local productions such as senior center musical programs, summer concerts and local election night coverage. One example is the “Trumbull Talks” series recently produced by community resident Peg Perillie.

Up to now, funds derived solely from cable subscribers have been sufficient to maintain public access programming. But the future is less clear. More and more households are adopting broadband Internet, one attraction being the increased availability of entertainment programming. Simultaneously, many are cutting the cord-terminating their cable television subscriptions.

Netflix, Hulu and Apple TV provide a variety of Internet delivered programing, and with-out cable subscriptions. Even over-the-air networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) have begun broadcasting their programs over the Internet. And Apple recently announced an exclusive agreement with HBO for a new service, “HBO Now,” that will deliver all HBO programming over the Internet and also without the need for a cable subscription.

Industry analysts expect both trends to continue. As cable television confronts a deteriorating subscriber base, absent the addition of funding from broadband subscribers, public access programming will also decline, and potentially disappear.

TCT believes that HB6437 is essential to counteract this impending funding loss and fully supports and endorses HB6437. TCT asks Trumbull residents to contact Rep. Rutigliano (dave.rutigliano@housegop.ct.gov) or Rep. Devlin (laura.devlin@housegop.ct.gov) and let them know you, too, support this bill.

Kate Donahue, administrative chair, Byron Campbell, technical chair

Roy Fuchs, programming chair, John Annick, ex-officio chair,

Jim Lang, ex-officio Assistant chair