Monday, May 12, 2008

Public access television - should they compete to be our providers?

That's the question before the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs right now. Nanea Kalani at Pacific Business News filed a story in the current print edition that lays out an uncertain future for the four public access television providers that we all know - Olelo on Oahu, Akaku on Maui, Hoike on Kauai, and Na Leo O Hawaii on the Big Island. These four have not been subject to procurement laws in the past, ostensibly because no money is involved in providing the service.

What happened to change that policy? At the start of the session, there were two measures pertaining to the issue. One was Senate Bill 1789 which proposed to exempt permanently the public access providers from procurement. Along with the other providers and many citizens, Kealii Lopez, Exec. Dir. of Olelo, testified that she supported the bill which allowed the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) to select providers in accordance with Chapter 91 administrative rulemaking, and with the advice of the Cable Advisory Committee. The State Procurement office opposed the measure and believes that the DCCA should subject the providers to procurement requirements. For the past 15 years, the contracts have been automatically renewed.

The other was House Concurrent Resolution 358, introduced by Rep. Kyle Yamashita, that requests the DCCA to form a task force to explore alternatives to procurement in relation to the selection of public access providers. While providers did not oppose the resolution in principle, they favored the Senate bill. However, that bill died in House Finance, failing to meet the second decking deadline, leaving HCR 358 as the operative vehicle.

Meanwhile, the current contracts expire on June 30th, and the DCCA is determining whether they will continue the practice of exemption or require the providers to bid for the position. If it's the latter, that may result in major changes to the public access landscape.

1 comment:

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