FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 1996
Contact: Spencer Boise, Foreman
Phone (805) 568-2292
The 1995-96 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury today released a report alerting area officials to better position themselves for leadership in the electronic age of communications heading into the 21st Century.
The Grand Jury report focuses on the cable television franchise renewal between the City of Santa Barbara and Cox Communications. This is the first of ten long-term cable franchises scheduled for renewal in Santa Barbara County over the next five years. It is also one of the first franchise renewals in the United States since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 last February.
The new telecommunications law creates sweeping changes in the competitive environment of the entire industry. In the near future, companies will compete to provide full services of local and long distance telephone operations, Internet computer access, interactive services and cable television. The Grand Jury report signals local regulators to set equal standards for these providers including fees for use of the public rights of way.
The Grand Jury report stresses the need for public participation in the Santa Barbara cable franchise renewal process before the information gathering phase ends in May. The report recommends that the city extend the current 15-year Cox franchise agreement, allowing more time for thorough negotiations of the renewal. The Grand Jury is encouraging local media and special interest groups to inform citizens of this opportunity to express their needs and interests for the future of telecommunications throughout the county.
The Grand Jury also recommends the formation of a city-county joint powers agency to develop regional policies and long-term telecommunications strategies, and suggests recruitment of outside technical and governmental expertise to take full advantage of new telecommunication opportunities.
The full report is posted on the Grand Jury's World Wide Web page. Copies of the report are also available at the Superior Court Jury Services office at 1100 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, or call 568-3139.