Thursday, June 01, 2006

Media Coverage of the Franchise Bill in Senate Commerce

We've got a rare threefer today: The Advocate, The Times-Picayune, and the Gannett papers (including the Advertiser) across the state are all running stories on the same telecommunications issue. The state-wide franchise bill has finally become a state-wide issue in the media. To add to this embarrassement of riches Mike has already posted his first-hand take on LPF. Mike testifed at the hearing and his advice gets highlighted in John Hill's Gannett article:

Mike Stagg, an information technology expert from Lafayette, told the committee that in a California case, the telephone company is arguing that its Internet Protocol Television service is an information service, not a cable television service, and, therefore, is exempt from franchise fees under federal law.

His point is that the phone company is likely to advance that no franchise fee argument across the country.

The obsessive should click through and take a look at all the stories. They each tell an interesting part of the tale. But as bit of a newspaper geek I was interested in the shift in tone from earlier articles. The new stories remain "reportorial" in that they "just report" what they heard. The professional tone doesn't change. What does is what the press corp is now able to hear. Prior to today the write-ups framed the story in terms of BellSouth vs. Cable. That's changed and today it's being framed more as a BellSouth vs. local government. That's good since it's a lot more accurate way to understand the conflict. It's also inevitable since Cox abandoned the alliance that it had with local governments as the bill went through the Louisiana house when Senate committee gave (or appeared to give) them the right to dump the local franchise as well. With the incumbents ganging up on local government to kill the franchise it ought to sink in soon that competition isn't the immediate issue. Hill, who's been on the story the longest has come around to a new lead for his story:
Legislation to allow telephone companies to bypass local governments to offer television services to their customers was approved Wednesday by a Senate committee.
The Advocate's lead gives it a similar framing:
BellSouth wants to stream digital television into your home. But it does not want to pay the franchising fees to towns and parishes that cable TV companies do
Mike's piece is the most complete and reports bits like the 3-3 vote on the Michot ammendment that came within a hairsbreadth of successfully gutting the bill. (Where was Fontenot when her vote counted?)

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