In this Thursday’s (3/31/11) Montclair Times, there were several interesting articles on varied topics: teacher evaluations by parents (ack!), tax hike more than expected (duh.), the Montclair Library praying to the book gods for no more reductions (gulp.).
Then there was this seemingly minor issue about cable deregulation temporarily averted. I’d heard about it previously, but never bothered to figure out how or why it mattered. I thought it had something to do with no longer having a TV34 to watch the Council Meetings and Board of Education meetings on. That would really put a damper on those of us who can’t or don’t want to get a babysitter for hours so we can see and hear what’s going on. Besides, I love being able to DVR the meetings and re-play some of the more interesting bits.
Anyway, I actually went through this article carefully, and now I think I get it. According to the article, deregulating will probably mean that public entities (towns, libraries, emergency response facilities) will no longer have free-of-charge cable and internet access. In addition, a big concern for towns (townships? I still don’t know the difference) is the 4% franchise fee companies pay will no longer be automatic. Municipalities may also lose their right to petition for a fee that matches the costs associated with a franchise change-over.
Of secondary concern is the potential for higher costs to customers (that’s most of us, no?) over time. I’d think that in a town like Montclair, where many people work out of their homes and depend on internet access, that would be attention-worthy.
Full disclosure: I’m almost always for more regulation. I know it’s not business friendly, but I have seen what deregulated companies will do – kind of like what people do when they think no one is watching – just on a larger scale. (Thanks to Xris of Flatbush Gardener for use of his trash dumping photo!)
Check out the text of the bill here: S-2664