I was very disappointed to read that Time Warner Cable will be dropping New England Cable News from its channel line-up at the end of this month. NECN is an important source of regional news and must remain a part of local cable offerings. As areas of the United States continue to become more homogeneous, it’s nice to have a news source that celebrates the unique character of New England and its people.
This decision is a sad reflection of misplaced priorities, as Time Warner Cable is unlikely to drop the NESN sports channel, since a strong customer backlash would ensue. News content should be considered just as crucial as sports programing in the cable universe.
This is part of a much larger problem: media consolidation. Most cable channels are owned by a handful of large media conglomerates. NECN is owned by Comcast Corp., which is Time Warner Cable’s archrival. Comcast can use its leverage and monopoly power to squeeze more money out of rival cable providers for its valuable programming.
All this is happening while Charter Communications is preparing to make an offer to acquire Time Warner Cable, which would end up consolidating the industry even more. It’s time that the federal government put an end to this relentless consolidation by preventing these mergers and ensuring that media companies serve the public interest.
The book “Captive Audience” by Susan Crawford provides an excellent overview of how cable industry consolidation adversely affects consumers.
The Board of Environmental Protection is writing new mining rules that will affect the entire state. This is happening because J.D. Irving wants to mine Bald Mountain in Aroostook County.
There are two basic problems with the rule changes. The BEP wants to allow water pollution around the mining site, and it does not want the open pit mining companies to be saddled with a long-term cleanup. The problem is that the mining does create a perpetual water pollution issue.
The only other open pit mine in Maine, the Callahan Mine in Brooksville, where mining took place between 1968 and 1972, is now an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site costing $23 million so far.
To learn more about this issue, go to the Natural Resources Council of Maine website: www.nrcm.org/issue_mining.asp
This is such an important issue. Please write to the BEP.
Do the right thing
As reported in the Dec. 12 BDN, 33 Democratic representatives wrote a letter to House and Senate colleagues working to find $40 million in budget cuts, encouraging them to target corporate tax loopholes. I was so proud to see that my own local legislator, Rep. Jennifer DeChant of Bath, signed this letter; I urge readers to contact their own legislator and encourage them to do the same.
Instead of eliminating corporate tax exemptions of various kinds — a fairly easy source for $20 to $40 million — Gov. Paul LePage proposes to cut revenue sharing (from the state), which will only result in increased property taxes throughout Maine. He’s already granted tax cuts to the wealthiest Mainers (unpaid for). Now he wants to help Walmart and Hannaford increase their bottom line, while raising property taxes for the rest of us. This is just not right.
This isn’t just a Maine problem; Congress has a responsibility to close these offshore loopholes, too. In the budget compromise in Washington, members approved a deal that terminated unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed while giving corporations a pass on offshore tax havens. We need our elected officials at the federal level to support legislation like Levin’s bill on offshore tax havens, which would take a big step in the direction of making sure multinational companies pay their fair share in taxes.
Please tell Sen. Angus King to support legislation on offshore tax havens, and ask your own Maine lawmakers to encourage Maine’s Appropriations Committee to do the right thing. Corporate welfare needs to become a thing of the past.