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CPUC DIVCA Hearings

CABLE CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS – CPUC DIVCA PUBLIC HEARINGS

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is holding public hearings, which they call public participation hearings, to hear from communities about the performance of cable companies like Comcast, Spectrum and Cox. A 2022 state law, known as SB 28, asked the agency to update the licensing of cable companies, a process known as franchising, and to adopt customer service standards. This is the first time cable franchising has been reviewed in more than fifteen years in California. It is an exciting opportunity to fight for community media, digital equity and consumer protections.

 

WHAT IS THE CPUC?

The CA Public Utilities Commission is a state agency that regulates utility services, including telecommunications. The agency has five commissioners appointed by the governor and a public advocates division. The agency creates rules for industries it oversees. This rule-making process is number R.23-04-006. Rule-making is overseen by a judge, called an administrative law judge, and one presiding commissioner who do research, take evidence, accept comments and issue a preliminary decision for the full commission to vote on. Most comments come from official stakeholders, known as parties, but sometimes the commission wants to get broad general input and then they schedule one or more public hearings. The Alliance for Community Media (ACM), The Alliance for Communications Democracy, and Media Alliance are parties to this proceeding. The public hearings are a way to show the judge that the asks ACM, ACD, and Media Alliance are making have lots of support and represent what the community wants. The talking points listed below can help you to lift up some of our advocacy arguments in your public comment.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT?

The public hearing will be presided over by the administrative law judge. Your comments will be recorded and transcribed and that transcript will be part of the public record. There will be a brief introduction and then the public comments will begin. There is usually an in-person option and a hybrid or online portion. If you are attending in person, you will register to speak. It is usually necessary to arrive at the beginning of the hearing time in order to register. Then you wait until your name is called and then proceed to the microphone. You will be asked to provide your first and last name, and the name of any organization you are representing or affiliated with, if any, and probably to spell your first and last name for the court reporter. The standard time to speak is two minutes, but the judge can make that shorter or longer depending on the number of people who want to speak. If you are participating virtually, you will call the telephone number at the beginning of the hearing time where they will take your name and then wait until they tell you to go ahead and comment. Be patient as the wait can take a while.

It is important to understand that cable companies will mobilize folks, often nonprofits, to support their arguments that no new customer service standards are needed and that they are providing fabulous service. Do not feel discouraged or confused by such testimony. The commission is eager to hear from people who are not funded by the cable companies. Your presence is important as a counter to such testimony. If you aren’t there, that is all they will hear!

 

WHEN AND WHERE

There will be two dates for live and in-person hearings where you can interact with the judge in real life.

On August 14th – there will be two hearings in Sacramento

Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Chambers
700 H Street, Room 1450
Sacramento CA 95814
Afternoon hearing: 1pm to 3pm
Evening hearing: 5pm to 7pm


On September 5th – there will be two hearings in Monterey Park

Monterey Park City Council Chambers
320 West Newmark Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Afternoon hearing: 1pm to 3pm
Evening hearing: 5pm to 7pm

There will be one date for all-virtual public hearings where you can provide comments via the telephone.

 On September 19 – there will be two virtual hearings
Telephone Call-In #  1800-857-1917   Passcode: 6032788
Afternoon hearing: 1pm to 3pm
Evening hearing: 5pm to 7pm

 

PREP WORKSHOPS

ACM West will have brief Zoom workshops to help you prepare for the public hearings. Workshops will cover how the process works, what to expect and tips and tricks for making the most of your two minutes.

August 7th – 10:00 AM – Morning session. Register at: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMsdeiprz8rH9WPDYgTXOc6GvAYMLEcxh8w

August 7th – 7:00 PM – Evening Session. Register at: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAsf-yspz4uGNagyAiQwCXxyUZ0ADypmxb1

September 12 – 10:00 AM – Morning Session. Register at: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcocOGsqz4pGtPGp2h5d8dpSB835ZIzDG0-

September 12 – 7:00 PM – Afternoon Session. Register at: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUvd-2qrDMqEtTzER7-A6_JJVIQpy3RHSVd

 

TALKING POINTS

We are providing a few talking points to help you put together your comment. Please feel free to mix and match as you feel comfortable, but if you can mention one or more of these points, it will help to align your testimony with the written comments ACM, ACD, and Media Alliance are submitting on behalf of California’s community media centers. If you have examples from your community that amplify any of these talking points feel free to provide that information.

  • Statewide cable franchising (DIVCA) was enacted almost 20 years ago. Since its passage, there have been major changes to the technology and services provided by the cable companies as state video franchisees.
  • Ensuring customer’s ability to access PEG access channels is essential to customer service requirements and the modernization of DIVCA. Despite the vital role of these channels, customers are often provided inferior access to them.
  • One of the problems faced by California consumers is that state franchisees transmit PEG channels and programming via outdated standard definition resolution, even though most PEG providers deliver programming in high definition resolution.
  • All channels including PEG channels should be delivered to subscribers in the same format as they are transmitted. A video service provider should not downgrade the channel signal quality.
  • Many video franchisees have not been providing program scheduling information in the electronic programming guides. By doing so, customers are deprived of their ability to locate, view, record, and otherwise take advantage of services they are paying for.
  • Some video franchisees are charging PEG entities (e.g. community media centers, cities, and education institutions) to transmit programming such as city council and school board and other community information to California consumers. This is a clear violation of DIVCA.
  • PEG channels play a crucial role in government transparency efforts by covering local government meetings and proceedings. They are vital sources of local news and civic engagement and played a critical role in the COVID pandemic by delivering hyper-local government, public health, public safety and educational information.
  • The deliberately substandard treatment of PEG channels represents serious harm to California customers. The Commission should address it as part of the customer service requirements it adopts under SB 28.

 

BACKGROUND

If you are interested, here are some links for more information on how we got here.

Senate Bill 28 – The law that made this proceeding happen. leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB28

CPUC Proceeding Record – R.23-04-006
apps.cpuc.ca.gov/apex/f?p=401:56::::RP,57,RIR:P5_PROCEEDING_SELECT:R2304006

CPUC Outreach Video for this Proceeding
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz7N5uaAFSM

CPUC Video Franchising Information
www.cpuc.ca.gov/regulatory-services/licensing/video-franchising

Why Statewide Video Franchising Hurts Communities
communitynets.org/content/statewide-video-franchising-bad-communities

 

HELP TO GET MORE PEOPLE TO COME TO THE PUBLIC HEARING VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter/X: Wanna help out [your local community media center]? We need our friends to tell the CPUC to hold cablecos responsible for keeping community media thriving. Find out how to help at an upcoming public hearing here: acmwest.org/cpuc

Facebook/Instagram/Mastodon/Others: Wanna help out [your local community media center]? We need our friends to tell the CPUC to hold cablecos responsible for keeping community media thriving for media access, job training and coverage of local news and events. Find out how to help at an upcoming public hearing here: acmwest.org/cpuc

WAVE Awards Ceremony 2024

Our wonderful community of producers has worked hard all year and now it is time to see the best of the west recognized. The winners for 2024 were announced and honored at an online awards ceremony on Friday, April 19 at 7pm Pacific. Click here to for a full list of winners and to watch the ceremony!

Join us for in-person meetups in February

If you haven’t already heard, the ACM National Conference will take place in San Jose, California, this summer. We’re excited to welcome ACM members from across the country to the West Region. We hope you’ll join us.

That means this year ACM West will not host a regional conference. Our regional conference will return in 2025, location to be announced.

However, in February, we are offering several meetup opportunities in Hawaii and California. These are free to attend. Our Hawaii members will gather on The Big Island from February 1-3. For more information email Kat Tracy at kat@akaku.org.

For our California members, there will be a meetup at Contra Costa TV in Martinez, CA, on Monday, February 5 – click here to register; and a meetup at Pasadena Media in Pasadena, CA, on Thursday, February 8 – click here to register.

ACM President & CEO Mike Wassenaar will be in attendance at all the meetups. This is a great opportunity to network with and learn from your community media colleagues. There is no cost to attend and you don’t need to be an ACM member (though we hope you’ll consider joining).

What does the ACM do?


In order for democracy to flourish, people must be active participants in their government, free to express themselves, and educated to think critically.

Founded in 1976, the Alliance represents over 3,000 Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access organizations and community media centers throughout the country. The ACM works to protect the interests of these organizations and those who use PEG facilities and equipment to advance their causes through cable television and the Internet.

JOIN US:

Please explore this website, become an ACM member, or contact us for more information. We look forward to serving you by promoting civic engagement through community media. Also learn about our many training activities like our annual conference and trade show.

The best part of the ACM is that in addition to learning about issues, you also learn how to address them in your community. Through the ACM West and our national parent organization, you can learn how to help local voices on the most powerful medium. In addition, we support democratization of the media. This means we support radio, internet and many other means of communication integral to an informed world. Learn about creating a local news program on a shoestring, explore media literacy and digital inclusion issues, and learn how to address them in your community.

Action Alert for California PEG!

California Assembly Bill 2635 makes a small but important change to current California law. It would require the local PEG access channels to be in high definition (HD) or the modern technology used by local broadcast TV if the material is created in HD format. This change would ensure that open captioning embedded into video (for example on Zoom) for deaf, hearing impaired, and elderly audiences are legible. It would ensure that documents presented during public meetings such as maps, spreadsheets, and presentations are not indecipherable.

It’s critical that ACM members and their local governments and supporters take action now to keep the bill alive! For the bill to move forward we need ACM members, community media center users and supporters, and local governments to act NOW!

Here’s what we all can do:

1. Call your Assembly Member and encourage strong support for AB2635. Here’s the contact info and how each member voted on May 2nd: drive.google.com/file/d/1rI2cnR_ILAOricaeW4r2tlm0bAaFDVWQ/view?usp=sharing

2. Send an email to Assembly Members using Media Alliance’s “Take Action” page. This page has helpful “Facts vs Myths” for dispelling the cable industry lies. takeaction.salsalabs.org/AB2635MythFact/index.html. (Also, here’s proof that HD PEG channels did not increase cable rates in Oregon: drive.google.com/file/d/1bP7VZhWnroDNzkdNRE6ULfJLdbuPKmgW/view?usp=sharing)

3. Send this letter of support to your Assembly Member and the persons listed at the top of the letter. Encourage other elected officials or government officials to send the letter also. Link: docs.google.com/document/d/18wIj1O1SUQMH6jcuwjVD_MIbUtv_pITQ/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=112745945501984474403&rtpof=true&sd=true

We all will benefit if AB2635 passes… but we need your support NOW!

Social Justice Training

NEW ACM Offering, Hosted by the IEE Caucus

Justice at Work Training!

Deadline to register is Friday, June 3

Topics covered: What is social power? Bringing power to people, interrupting bias within ourselves and in institutions, structural inequities and more.

“I have gone through the training with my team. We have found it to be approachable for people new to sometimes difficult conversations on power and oppression. I think you will enjoy Mia’s onsite facilitation and debrief discussion. She is one of my favorite facilitators. Don’t miss this opportunity to start these conversations with your organization and team. Community media plays a critical role in addressing power and oppression in media and fostering a more just and equitable media system.”
        – Matt Schuster, Public Media Network, Kalamazoo, MI

Registrants will have 4 weeks to participate in virtual training modules and review related content in preparation for an in-person training from 1-5pm on Monday, June 27 at the ACM National Conference at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park. Virtual sessions must be completed prior to June 27 convening. This event is hosted by the IEE Caucus and facilitated by Mia Henry and Freedom Lifted.

Training is broken down to three areas (4-5 hours online):
– Identity and Power
– Five Faces of Oppression
– Resistance and Solidarity

The capacity for this event is 30 people. Early registration is encouraged to guarantee your spot. The deadline to register is Friday, June 3.

Cost: $75 per person

A group lunch will be served from Noon to 1pm prior to the start of the program on June 27.

Register Now!

2022 WAVE Awards Ceremony Live Stream

The live stream begins at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Our wonderful region of professionals, community producers and students have worked hard all year and now it’s time to see the best of the west recognized!