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NATOA can help cities with cable questions.

If you haven't heard already, you will soon hear of the sudden changes in rates and channel lineups that cable companies are imposing across the country with little or no notice to subscribers and franchising authorities. These changes are attributed by the cable industry to the 1992 Cable Act and implementing regulations of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

"What on earth is going on?" may be the least of the questions you face. Important issues of rate regulation, customer service, broadcast channel carriage, federal complaint processes, FCC certification, adoption of local rules, and other questions will all require action at the local level. Inaction is a prescription for disaster: without prompt action, cable subscribers in your community may soon begin to wonder why local government is not providing the protections contemplated by the 1992 Cable Act, and why no one is bothering to verify the cable operator's claim that "the FCC made me do it!"

We have a better prescription than inaction! The best way to stay abreast of all the late-breaking developments in cable television regulation is to join NATOA. Since 1980, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) has served as the NLC's technical advisor on cable regulation and telecommunications issues.

NATOA members represent some of the most informed local government officials in the country on cable regulatory matters. NATOA advocates for local government of cable and telecommunications matters in Congress and at the FCC. NATOA provides networking opportunities that put members in touch with other jurisdictions facing similar issues. If you're not a member, we urge you to join in order to benefit from the best and most current advice on local government responsibilities in cable regulation.

NATOA's scope is broader than cable regulation alone. A few years ago, telecommunications at the level meant only the franchising and use of cable television to deliver clearer reception and more programming. Today, that picture has changed dramatically. Developments in cable, telephone, and telecommunications technology are rapidly eroding the walls that have traditionally separated these industries. Two-way communications, local access programming, institutional networks, and other developments forecast tremendous opportunities.

At the same time, major changes in the regulatory environment are creating new challenges for local officials. The 1992 Cable Act is but one example of the significant new responsibilities facing local government. Other bills pending in Congress and regulatory proceedings at the FCC may vitally affect the ability of local governments to meet local needs in the design of telecommunications infrastructure, while at the same time preserving local revenues and authority over the public rights-of-way. To meet these challenges, local officials must stay abreast of regulatory, technological and legal developments; fashion new approaches to franchising and renewals; and understand how telecommunications can be used for the maximum benefit.

Meeting these challenges is exactly what NATOA membership is about. Your community can receive the latest information on all of the developments in cable and telecommunications regulation, the opportunity to keep pace with the constant shifts in law and technology, and a referral network.

NATOA appreciates the recognition and strong support of the NLC and Executive Director Don Borut for NATOA's unique role in providing ongoing, specialized cable regulatory and telecommunications advice under the NLC's umbrella. With the support and expertise of specialized affiliate organizations such as NATOA on telecommunications and cable regulatory policy and Public Technology, Inc. (PTI) in technology and applications, the NLC is well-positioned to provide the most current advice.

Whether you are an elected official or professional staff, we are confident that NATOA membership can benefit you and your community, particularly in the immediate area of meeting new local government responsibilities under the 1992 Cable Act. For membership information, contact NATOA in the NLC Center for Member Programs at (202) 626-3160.

David Olson is president of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Administrators.
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Title Annotation:National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors
Author:Olson, David
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Aug 30, 1993
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