Bill could hurt NCTV
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to send letters to state representatives opposing language in a bill that could erode the rights of local governments and negatively impact Nevada County Television and other area communications services.
The bill, AB-2987, gives the state the right to negotiate contracts with cable companies that local governments currently handle. The bill was passed by an assembly committee Monday evening and will likely go before the full state assembly in May.
District 3 Assemblyman Rick Keene said he voted for the bill as a member of the Utilities and Commerce committee because it creates a “one-stop shop” at the state level for telecommunications companies, making it easier for them to enter a market than dealing separately with local governments.
Increased competition would ultimately benefit consumers, said Keene, adding that rural areas would not see the advantages of the bill as quickly as urban ones.
District 5 Supervisor Ted Owens expressed doubts the bill would benefit local customers, as Nevada County does not have as desirable a market as more densely populated areas.
“We’re rural California,” Owens said. “We’re getting the short end of the stick.”
District 1 Supervisor Nate Beason questioned the “verbal assurances” he received from Keene that the bill would not have negative local impacts.
“We want to see what comes out in writing,” Beason said after the meeting, adding the bill’s language does not protect the rights of local governments and problems would be created by having local affairs controlled by the state government.
“Experience with the state has not always been pleasant,” said Beason.
Lew Sitzer, executive director of NCTV, the local public access channel, said the legislation could make it more difficult for local government to receive additional funds and for the TV station to receive more channels.
The bill would give the county less leverage in negotiations such as the one currently being conducted with Comcast, said Beason.
Similar legislation to the one sponsored in California is scheduled to go before a House of Representatives committee in Washington, D.C. today.
To reach staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail joshs@theunion .com or call 477-4234.
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