Energy and Technology Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5463

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING PERIODIC REVIEW OF VIDEO PROVIDERS.

Vote Date:

3/18/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/9/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Energy and Technology Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill provides the opportunity to participate in biennial reviews of each certificate holder with the full participation of interested parties and to give the DPUC the ability to ensure compliance with state and federal law.

Substitute Language: Removed the advisory council as a party entitled to full participation and limited participation to the Office of Consumer Counsel and the Attorney General.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

William Vallee, Principal Attorney, Office of Consumer Counsel
This legislation will allow the DPUC to address specific areas of concern, such as: customer service, community access support, management of outages, service to handicapped and low-income customers, and cooperation with the DPUC. This will level the playing field and “expand the scope of the investigation into consumer concerns.”

Anthony Palermino, Commissioner, Department of Public Utility Control
The Department feels that this bill will correct much of what current provisions are lacking. It is necessary for them to have “sufficient power…to order specific remedies that would resolve any such petitions and proceedings.” They recommended that the committee reconsider making the advisory council a party, since they already have a voice through the Office of Consumer Counsel and the Attorney General. This recommendation was adopted in the substitute language.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Hal Levy, Chair, Area Nine Cable Council
Incorporating a performance review is responsible and an accepted move by many in the industry. Without such a provision, “there could be a race to the bottom by the operators in the areas of customer service [and] community access support…” among other issues.

Pua Ford, Media Specialist, League of Women Voters
Access to community television must be “adequately protected, promoted and funded regardless of the provider of the TV/video services.” This provision is the best method in which to address issues of access. For far too long, consumers have been negatively impacted by having fewer choices for more money and the growing trend of choice/basic channels moving farther out of reach.

Jennifer Evans, Executive Director, West Hartford Community Television
This legislation will benefit consumers by adding protections where the Department of Public Utility, the Office of Consumer Counsel, the Attorney General and the advisory councils can all work together to provide the best access possible. It will also give local communities the ability to address issues and ensure that community television “remains a viable resource.” Such reviews can demonstrate areas of weakness or pieces that could use additional fixing.

Scott Hanley, Manager, Government Access Television, Town of Wallingford
It is an appropriate move because the “frequent changes in technology do not necessarily improve marketplace conditions for consumers.” It will function as an additional venue for all entities (individual or organization) to point out issues of concern.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

William Durand, Chief Legal Counsel, New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, Inc.
Due to such a competitive environment in the industry, it makes little sense to have the Department of Public Utility Control conduct performance reviews. This will waste government resources and company money.

John Emra, AT&T
Existing law has adequate consumer protection and the Department of Public Utility Control has the authority to enforce them. Because of that, the added protections in this bill are unnecessary.

Reported by: Katie Breslin

Date: 25 March 2010