HOUSE FINANCE BLOWS OFF YOUR TESTIMONY
BACKS TIME WARNER FREEZE OF PUBLIC ACCESS TV
With Testimony running 100 – 1 against House Bill 2874 which would freeze Community Television funding on all islands for five years – the House Finance Committee voted unanimously to PASS the bill with amendments. The language of these amendments are not yet available. Significantly, even though the hearing on this measure was not announced until 9:30PM on Friday night for a Monday morning meeting, scores of people showed up to testify passionately in opposition and hundreds more written testimonies like yours were received by the committee also in opposition.
In terms of helping broadband development as it purports to do, this bill does none of that. In fact it does the exact opposite by weakening the PEGs and biting off its nose to spite is face. ( See testimony of Akaku President/CEO Jay April below)
Even though otherwise funded DOE was the intended beneficiary of a totally undefined plan that would steal PEG monies to buy laptops for schools, they didn’t even bother to show up. This is a bill nobody wanted with Hawaii Public Television and DCCA also weighing in against it. Nobody, that is, except for cable giant, OceanicTime Warner
The sole testimony IN FAVOR of this bill was submitted by TIME WARNER whose spokesperson clearly misrepresented the facts of how public access TV is funded in oral comments before the committee. Evidently, Time Warner’s testimony is worth more than any 100 of you. But you can’t read it because none of it has been posted on the House of Representatives website.
Time Warner is required by state and federal law to fund Community Television as RENT for using our public rights of way. Since when does the rent payer get to dictate the terms of how the rent money is spent? But this is exactly what happened.
Akaku would like to thank you for your support in defeating this bill and we ask you to stay tuned as we track its progress when it crosses over to the Senate where you will have another chance to register your opposition.
Thanks to a flood of phone calls and emails from people like you, outraged citizens from all islands, there was a tiny revolt in Big Island Representative Bob Herkesʻ Consumer Protection & Commerce Committee (CPN) on Monday. Last week, after faking the death of HB 2652, a bill designed to kill public access TV, Herkes gave it new life by sneaking it back onto the agenda on the eve of Superbowl weekend so it could be quietly voted on and sent forward to Finance. Rep. Bob Herkes was visibly not thrilled when citizens from all islands called and emailed committee members over the weekend to register deep and wide dissatisfaction with HB2652.
Maui Representative, Gilbert Keith-Agaran opened up the voting on the measure by firmly stating his opposition and voting "no". Reps. Sylvia Luke and Corinne Ching followed suit and Representatives Cynthia Thielin and Barbara Marumuto looked as though they were leaning toward a "no" vote as well. It was then that former Speaker and Maui Rep. Joe Souki asked the Chair why, if Herkes, was against carving up neighbor island PEGS as he claimed, why was there still language in the bill that does exactly that? In a confusing display of doublespeak, Herkes tried to dance around that one by saying he was not about to change the language in the bill but would make a note in the committee report that CPN is against a split of funds on neighbor islands before sending it forward to Finance. No one in the room was really buying that one and the bill was deferred until next Monday, February 13 at 2:15PM
Today, in a victory for free speech, Representative Herkes reversed himself and sent the following communique to the heads of all Public Access Stations:
FR: Rep. Robert N. Herkes
Chair, House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce
RE: HB2652 Relating to PEG Facilities
At the recent CPC hearing on Mon Feb 6, 2012, I announced that decision making on HB 2652 will be deferred again until the next CPC Committee hearing on Mon Feb 13, 2012. I wanted to let you know that my recommendation to the committee members will be to “hold” the measure. As such, this bill will not move forward.
Mahalo to you and the community television community for sharing your thoughts and concerns about the legislation.
Please thank Representative Robert Herkes for listening and Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran for sticking up for your voice. Please thank Representatives Joe Souki , Angus McKelvey and Mele Carroll for their unwavering support. Send some love to Oahu Reps. Sylvia Luke and Corinne Ching as well. These dedicated Public Servants heard your voice and stood up for you this time - but make no mistake - threats to your voice paid for by by Time Warner Cable are not over. There will be more attacks coming this legislative session. Stay tuned to akaku.com for updates.
On the eve of Super Bowl weekend with nobody looking, an outrageous double cross happened at the state capitol. Last Friday, In a ploy designed to destroy Public Access TV, a very bad bill, HB 2652 was introduced in the House of Representatives endorsed by cable giant Oceanic Time Warner HB2652 that would have cut the funding to Akaku and all Community Television in the state by two thirds with the money being siphoned off back to state coffers. The bill was introduced by Big Island Representative Herkes on Friday and set for a hearing on Monday not giving anyone enough time to get testimony before his committee.
Despite the late notice more than 45 written testimonies were submitted most all of them in strong opposition to the bill. Hearing the voice of the people loud and clear, the bill was deferred meaning it would die in committee.... A WIN FOR FREE SPEECH _ A WIN FOR THE PEOPLE .so we thought. This Friday afternoon, like a zombie coming back from the dead, the bill was brought back to life. This terrible legislation is scheduled for a vote at 2:15 PM Monday, Feb 6 in House Conference room 325. The word on the street is that Herkeʻs committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce (CPC) will send it forward ignoring your testimony in a classic double cross.
The question is, what happened this week to change the committeeʻs mind? Who in the House of Representatives is working behind the scenes for Time Warner and not for you? To do something about it, you NEED TO ACT NOW to drive a stake through the heart of this bill. Please let your Maui Representatives and the House Committee that you will not tolerate this double cross. Click on the "ACT NOW" link below to register your outrage with the entire committee. Better yet, call or email your Maui Representatives, Joe Souki, Angus McKelvey, Mele Carrol and Gil Keith-Agaran BEFORE 2:00 PM on Monday and tell them to vote an emphatic NO on HB2652. Let your voice BE HEARD while you still have it.
Representative Mele Carroll 586-6790