Mineola residents may lose access to the village’s public access TV channel 19 if an ongoing effort by Federal Communications Commission and cable lobbyists to “supersede the authority of the village” is approved according to village trustee Lawrence Werther.
“If the cable companies are not beholden to the villages, I would also take a guess that if the franchise fees and their responsibilities to us go away, that our public service access channels would go away also,” Werther said at Wednesday’s meeting of the village board.
The resolution, which was adopted April 7 and whose 60 day comment period is drawing to a close, would reportedly eliminate village’s authority over “the stringing of cable wires,” broadband internet and strip villages of their ability to negotiate with cable companies for franchise fees.
Should the cable companies be allowed to bypass the franchise fees, it would amount to about $330,000 in revenue loss to the village. As part of their agreements with local governments, many municipalities ask that companies provide local access channels to their residents.
The village currently has agreements with Cablevision and Verizon to operate franchises in Mineola.
Werther called the move a “threat to our home rule authorities” and asked that the village board draft a joint response with the Village Officials Association (VOA) and one independently.
He also asked residents to reach out to their Federally elected officials including Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand to voice their opposition to the resolution.
VOA attorney Thomas Levin has reportedly volunteered to issue a joint response from the various villages to the FCC at no charge.