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    2007 Act 42 State Franchise Legislation (Wisconsin Statute 66.0420)

In December 2007, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed the Video Competition Act, one of a dozen or so ALEC inspired pieces of legislation that deregulated the cable television field and wrested control from cities.  The bill increased expenses and decreased income for community television.  The law abrogated all existing local franchise agreements, and created a weak one size fits all state level license for video providers.

In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Association of PEG Channels (now Wisconsin Community Media) and our staunch friends from city, consumer and union groups lobbied hard against the legislation.  In the end, we were successful in making four changes to the legislation that improved an otherwise debilitating situation for PEG.  They are:

1.  Requiring video providers to continue to provide the lines to all existing channel origination points at no charge. 

2.  Creating a three-year grace period before dedicated support for PEG channels ended (PEG fees ended in January 2011).

3.  Expanding the definition of video gross revenues to maintain the income most cities were receiving from the franchise fee -- a fee that is frequently used by cities to support community television stations.

4.  Weakening the content requirement that would have forced most stations off the air to a reasonable requirement of 40 hours of programming weekly, with 60% locally produced.

5.  Providing a break in cost to municipalities who are moving an origination line by requiring the video provider to provide the first 200' of transmission line at no charge. 66.0420(5)(d)

If you'd like to know more about Wisconsin's law, look here: 

Act 42 - The State Franchise Law (with line item vetoes)
Act 42 - The Community Television Provisions
Act 42 - Attorney Brian Grogan Summary of the Wisconsin State Franchise Law
Act 42 - WAPC Analysis of Act 42 as it relates to community television
Act 42 - Wisconsin Legislative Council Summary
Act 42 - The ALEC boilerplate legislation
ALEC urges FCC to respect states' sovereignty over cable and video franchising
Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau Letter Report on Charges for Video Service (Dec. 2009)