As big media faces a more public-interest oriented Congress, some public policy battles are moving to state legislatures. Phone giants interested in entering the video market want to get rid of local franchising, the locale-by-locale permission to use public right-of-ways that cable companies have had to secure.

A community with enough foresight to take advantage of franchising--and Columbus, regrettably, has not--has been able to leverage Public, Educational and Government (PEG) channels with budgets to run them, to provide high-speed governmental and civic sector networks, to require services in low-income communities, and to generate other benefits, services and local income.

All this will go away if recently introduced Ohio Senate Bill 117 becomes law. Franchising authority would be placed in the hands of the state Commerce Director. According to Ohio community technology advocate Bill Callahan of Cleveland Digital Vision, passage of this bill would mean no more citywide service obligations, no more demands for special services to municipal and school facilities, no more requirements to support community media access and technology programs, no negotiation of any kind. Where a franchise remains in effect, the cable company can walk away whenever it chooses, and "no provision of that franchise or agreement is enforceable" by the community.

The law would prohibit the state from negotiating any similar public benefits on behalf of its communities. Let your State Senator know that you choose local control, PEG media and broadband services for all Ohioans so all can participate fully in our economy, educational system and culture.

Call your state representatives now!

To learn more, read Bill Callahan's blog: Blog