KAHULUI, HI – 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, Oceanic Time 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.
If you have questions regarding the amended language or why this bill is still moving on despite overwhelming public opposition, call your HOUSE FINANCE Committee Representative. On Maui, that would be Representative Kyle Yamashita. Mr.Yamashita can be reached at 808 586-6330 or E-Mail: repyamashita@Capitol.hawaii.gov.
COMMITTEE ON FINANCE
Rep. Marcus R. Oshiro, Chair
Rep. Marilyn B. Lee, Vice Chair
Monday, February 27, 2012 10:00 AM Conference Room 308
Testimony of Jay April, President and CEO Akaku: Maui Community Television
Member HCR 358 Legislative Task Force in STRONG OPPOSITION TO HB2874 RELATING TO BROADBAND
On behalf of the people of Maui, we strongly OPPOSE House Bill 2874 Relating to Broadband because we can demonstrate that it's likely effect will be to limit broadband adoption and education, not enhance it.
Protection of cable access funding of Public, Educational and Government Access is important to broadband education and is an essential component of bringing Hawaii into the forefront of the digital age. Our ability to communicate effectively with each other will only succeed if the fullest range of local community communications needs such as access to bandwidth, tools, skills and ideas on a fast, open, affordable internet are met for all residents at reasonable cost. Media literacy, digital education and access to spectrum are the underpinnings of broadband development. PEG access centers already in place, are providing cost effective resources and tools to accomplish these goals and bring digital literacy to all of our people. They are perfectly positioned to have an immediate positive impact on Hawaiiʼs broadband future. This it why it makes perfect sense to increase funding for PEG for use in broadband adoption and education, not freeze funding as is contemplated in this bill.
This is particularly important because Akaku has been an early adopter of real world broadband applications. Akaku was the first media organization in Hawaii to use the internet to stream video in the late nineties and in 2007 was once again the first to multicast and simulcast, via radio, television and the web, events of public importance to the entire state. Akaku was the first in Hawaii to integrate live TV broadcasts with "skype" technology and currently provides Maui County Government free streaming services and Maui Nui residents with one of the most innovative broadband training programs in the nation - a programs that could be at risk if HB2874 should ever become law. This bill if it passes will, by cutting off its nose to spite its face, negatively impact an existing, highly functional engine for broadband adoption by Hawaii residents.
Akaku is currently using broadband technology and curricula that are light years ahead of anything public schools are doing including deploying state of the art equipment and software that outperforms anything a laptop can do. This broadband adoption effort is open to all youth in Maui County from ages 10 –25 and extends well beyond the confines of any classroom.
Not only that, we are at the verge of exporting this progressive learning model to our educational partners statewide and are actively investigating the possibility of creating broadband infrastructure build-outs for rural areas that will be superior to anything offered by Time Warner Cable or anybody else. House Bill 2874, by robbing Peter to pay Paul, will help defeat these efforts by taking resources and growth away from the real broadband innovators and trainers, Hawaii's PEG Access centers. HB2874 will put these much needed funds into an undefined, black hole of underperforming state education coffers. Despite the dedication and excellence demonstrated every day in the classroom by Hawaii's teachers, due to bureaucratic and other priorities, it is hard to justify how a few laptops will have the ability to transform the present system into a high performance new media engine no matter how hard they try. And the proof is in the pudding. It needs to be pointed out that for several years now, our public schools have received millions and millions of dollars of cable franchise PEG funds from Akaku and from Olelo with few, if any measurable results and little or no accountability for these funds.
If House members are really interested in creating a real world model to increase broadband adoption and meet the lofty goals outlined in the Hawaii Broadband Initiative, it might consider an amendment to direct the DCCA to raise the current franchise fee assessment to 5% and to increase, not limit, funding to island PEG entities for purposes of broadband education.