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Public access TV holds ground in Adelphia sale

By Kathryn Casa | Vermont Guardian

posted January 6, 2006

MONTPELIER — Chalk one up for free speech.

Confronting the specter of a vastly consolidated national cable television market, advocates are hailing the state Public Service Board’s Dec. 29 approval of the sale of Adelphia’s Vermont franchise to Comcast and Time Warner as a quiet victory for public access to the airwaves.

If the $17.6 billion sale of the national Adelphia network is approved by federal regulators and a bankruptcy court, Vermonters stand to gain more local access channels, the ability for those channels to exchange programs, and even a statewide channel that could feature live programming of events like the opening session of the Legislature, a state championship basketball game, or election returns.

“If there is any big story for us out of this, it’s that Vermont access channels and organizations were recognized as important — that the 20 years of protections for free speech that we worked for have been protected by the Public Service Board, and both the Department of Public Service [DPS] and Comcast are on notice that they can’t treat [public access] lightly,” said Lauren-Glenn Davitian, executive director of CCTV’s Center for Media and Democracy in Burlington. Davitian testified in the case on behalf of the Vermont Access Network, an organization of 25 cable access management organizations (AMOs).

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