ACTION ALERT! Your Voice on the Big Island Could Be Silenced by Legislation!

Legislation that would silence Public Access Community TV has been introduced by Big Island Representative Bob Herkes with the backing of Cable TV giant Oceanic Time-Warner.

The bill, introduced by Rep Herkes, would rip-apart the PEG (Public, Educational, Government) Community TV station agreements and divert 67 percent of funds for Na Leo on the Big Island, and all other Community TV stations, into state coffers.

House Bill 2652 popped onto the House committee’s schedule for Monday (Feb 6) 2:15 p.m. This was done on Friday, the eve of Super Bowl weekend when folks wouldn’t be looking and it would be too late to submit testimony. HB2652 was originally scheduled for a hearing the previous week giving us only a few hours then to submit testimony against it and despite the late notice over 45 written testimonies were submitted with most of them in strong opposition to the bill.

House Bill HB2652 appears to be fast-tracked for passage as it was originally introduced Wednesday (Jan 25) and it has already passed its first reading and is being pushed forward. The General Manager at Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i was not told about the legislation ahead of time nor has it been mention by Rep Herkes to myself or other board members. There’s a definite lack of sunshine on what’s going on with this legislation for all the Community TV stations in Hawaii as well as the public.

The Community TV station on the Big Island is Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i. I am the president of Na Leo and this is a volunteer position as I, along with our volunteer board of directors, believe an informed public makes for a better society.

If our PEG franchise is split into three: (P)ublic, (E)ducation and (G)overnment then it is very likely that Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i will not survive to provide current services nor would our plans to expand our areas of coverage on Big Island survive.

On the neighbor islands we often play forgotten stepchild to Oahu. The Big Island is left out when it comes to coverage of news and events. Honolulu TV stations often ignore the Big Island when it comes to covering our island home. Because of this Na Leo has worked to fill this information gap.

Na Leo has sponsored Big Island Video News to bring much needed local coverage to the people of our island through cable TV with news that the Honolulu TV stations ignore. We also provide video from our hard working producers and staff from around the island covering an area larger than the rest of the main Hawaiian Islands combined which has always been a daunting task.

For our kupuna who may not get out often, for those living in this tough economy who can’t afford to drive across the island and often only have a decades old television Na Leo on cable TV may be their only chance to enjoy a Hawaiian music festival or watch one of our champion youth teams in action on the Big Island.

I urge everyone to ACT NOW AND CALL OR EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE. You must do this before 2 p.m. on Monday and tell them to vote ‘NO’ on HB2652. Let them know that the community on the Big Island will not be silenced. Let them know that they work for YOU and NOT big corporate interests. Tell them that you OPPOSE  HB2652.

You can visit the HB2652 page for more info here: http://tinyurl.com/hb2652

We urge you to contact your representative:

Mark Nakashima (District 1: North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo)
Phone (808) 586-6680
Fax (808) 586-6684
E-Mail: repnakashima@capitol.hawaii.gov

Jerry Chang (District 2: South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha)
Phone (808) 586-6120
Fax (808) 586-6121
E-Mail: repchang@capitol.hawaii.gov

* Cliff Tsuji (District 3: South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown)
Phone (808) 586-8480
Fax (808) 586-8484
E-Mail: reptsuji@capitol.hawaii.gov

Faye Hanohano (District 4: Puna, Pahoa, Hawaiian Acres, Kalapana)
Phone (808) 586-6530
Fax (808) 586-6531
E-Mail: rephanohano@capitol.hawaii.gov

* Robert Herkes (District 5: Puna, Ka’u, South Kona, North Kona)
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 320
Phone (808) 586-8400
Fax (808) 586-8404
E-Mail: repherkes@capitol.hawaii.gov

* Denny Coffman (District 6: North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau)
Phone (808) 586-9605
Fax (808) 586-9608
E-Mail: repcoffman@capitol.hawaii.gov

Cindy Evans (District 7: North Kona, South Kohala)
Phone (808) 586-8510
Fax (808) 586-8514
E-Mail: repevans@capitol.hawaii.gov

Note that Representatives Tsuji, Herkes and Coffman will be at the hearing on Monday (Feb 6) so it is especially important to contact them.

Baron Sekiya
President of Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i Public Access Television
baron@mediabaron.com

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