James Arness Movie Month
A legitimate war hero who earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, among other commendations, James Arness put his real-life leadership experience into the characters he played. This month INSP pays tribute to his roles as US Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke and as Zebulon Macahan in How the West Was Won. Watch James Arness movies all April long, only on INSP!

Manson: The Funeral
Saturday, April 13 @ 7PM CST

“Charles Manson: The Funeral” goes inside the journey of Charles Manson’s grandson Jason Freeman who fought to control the notorious cult leader’s body and funeral. What unfolds confounds Freeman as he wrestles with the duty of caring for a deceased relative who also happens to be one of the world’s most vile criminals. The documentary goes inside the funeral with the first-ever footage of the service and cremation and shows viewers what happens when Freeman crosses paths with Manson supporters who want to say goodbye and add their own disturbing touch to his memory.

Friends: Behind Closed Doors
Sunday, April 28 @ 8PM CST

Behind Closed Doors original documentary specials hosted by Natalie Morales return with new episodes about the lives and legacies of Paul Walker, Grease and John Ritter. Behind Closed Doors specials examine the lives of beloved celebrities and capitalizes on the vast offerings of NBC News historical archives including rarely seen footage and revealing interviews with the celebrities themselves along with fresh interviews from those who personally knew or worked with them.


With April 15 looming, taxes are likely at the forefront of your mind. No one – individual or business – enjoys paying them. The Texas cable industry is supporting legislation this session that would eliminate a double a tax it currently pays, giving tax relief to tens of millions of Texas cable subscribers. This is the latest legislative effort supported by the cable industry in recent years to cut Texans’ telecommunications taxes that once were among the highest in the nation.

Currently, cable companies and other telecommunications providers that install lines in a city’s right-of-way (ROW) pay the city for the right to occupy that right-of-way. However, because of outdated and duplicative ROW laws – telephone providers pay per access line under Chapter 283 of the Local Government Code, and video providers pay franchise fees totaling up to 6% of gross revenue under Chapter 66 of the Public Utilities Act – that provider pays the city each time if it sends both telephone calls and video over the same wire, which is commonplace today.

While the impact to the city’s right-of-way has not changed, two different taxes apply to that one wire. This cost of telecommunications services is paid by Texas consumers. Think of it like paying the fee when you drive your car on a toll road: You agree that you’re required to pay a fee to use the toll road, but you don’t pay twice for having a second person in the vehicle with you.

The Texas Cable Association and its cable company members – Altice USA (which provides Suddenlink services), Cable ONE, Charter Spectrum and Comcast – are asking the Legislature to modernize ROW laws by requiring a provider to pay the city the larger of the two taxes – but not both. 

Ending this double tax for Texas consumers would erase this line item from their monthly bill, saving them an estimated $100 million each year. This amount is only a small percentage of the taxes and fees cable companies would continue to pay to the state of Texas and the cities they serve.

This bill makes Texas one of only two states (Florida being the other) considering legislation to lower taxes and fees imposed on telecommunications providers by millions of dollars, Forbes recently reported.

The Texas cable industry has a history over the past decade of advocating for state laws to lower the tax burden for both themselves and their customers. 

In 2013, TCA supported legislation to equalize the local and state sales taxes paid by cable companies and satellite providers. At the time, cable TV providers and their viewers were paying more than $200 million in annual sales taxes on top of local franchise fees that their satellite TV competitors didn’t have to pay. Had it passed, the tax break would have gone directly to consumers by freeing them from paying sales taxes on the first $75 of their monthly bills, effectively lowering their bills.

Today, only traditional cable providers – and as a result, their customers – pay full-freight state and local sales taxes and cities’ franchise ROW taxes. Streaming video services like Netflix are not subject to cities’ franchise taxes, nor are satellite customers, who also pay no local sales tax.

But Texas phone customers did find some relief from the Texas Legislature in 2013. As a result of passed legislation, the Public Utility Commission of Texas continued its efforts to reduce costs for Texas phone customers by cutting the Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF) tax rate – a win for consumers in the fight to stop paying unnecessary taxes used to provide millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to major phone companies. For many consumers, these taxes added significantly to the overall monthly bills for home and business landlines and cell phones. 

The cut was a long time coming in the quest by the Texas Cable Association and others to reform an antiquated phone tax that has changed little since it was created in the late 1990s primarily to subsidize basic landline telephone service for Texans living in rural areas that sometimes were more expensive to serve. 

On the federal level, cable subscribers also are saving tax dollars thanks congressional action. The Internet Tax Freedom Act, which bans local, state and federal taxation of email and internet access, became permanent law when President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. One estimate suggested that the moratorium on Internet access taxes could equal as much as $6.5 billion each year. At that time, Texas was one of seven states that taxed internet subscription fees.

“By keeping internet access free from state and local taxes, ITFA (the Internet Tax Freedom Act) will permanently keep down the cost of connectivity, enable more American consumers and businesses to get online and allow the internet to further power economic growth,” said Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, when the provision was passed by the U.S. Senate.

Consent and Notice are Key to Protecting Privacy Online

At today’s FTC hearing on Competition and Consumer Protection, I had the opportunity to speak about the importance of establishing a strong legal framework to protect consumers’ privacy online. I reiterated Charter’s support for a national policy framework that gives consumers better tools to control and protect their personal information. As the leading consumer protection agency, the FTC has an important voice in the ongoing policy debate about online privacy and we welcomed the opportunity to be a part of its process to identify solutions that enhance consumer privacy protections across the internet.

During the panel, I explained that a new national framework should be based on the principles of transparency and consumer control. All companies doing business online would be required to tell consumers about their privacy practices and obtain their affirmative consent before using or sharing consumers’ data with limited exceptions (such as using information needed to render the service requested by consumer). Such “opt-in” consent would empower consumers to control how and when their personal data is used, give them comfort that their information is not being misused, and at the same time allow companies to innovate and provide high-quality services.

Read More

Low-Tax State Officials Propose More Tax Relief, As High-Tax State Lawmakers Push More Rate Hikes

Right now, both Florida and Texas are considering legislation that would lower the taxes and fees imposed on telecommunications providers and result in millions dollars in savings….Meanwhile, lawmakers in Texas are also looking to reduce the taxes and fees on monthly cable and phone bills. Throughout the country, local governments typically charge a fee when a telecommunications provider lays a line in the right-of-way. In Texas, however, arcane laws force providers to pay two fees on one line if it is used to provide both voice and video service.

March Programming Highlights

Murder Made Me Famous
Saturday, March 16 @ 7pm

This hit series examines killers who gained public notoriety when their crimes generated intense media coverage. Each hour-long episode presents dramatic recreations of the crimes using archival material and insightful commentary from those connected to the case. All new episodes will focus on the stories of Pablo Escobar, Osama Bin Laden, Son of Sam, Laurie Bambi Bembenek, Boston Strangler and Richard Speck.

Saturday, March 16 @ 8pm

Whether it’s Anthony Wiener’s descent from rising political star to sex offender, or one of the world’s richest heiresses Patty Hearst robbing a bank at gunpoint, or Aaron Hernandez going from NFL star and multi-millionaire to convicted murderer – this series explores the darker side of fame. Through interviews with crime experts, recreations, archival footage and police reports, viewers will learn the stories and motivations behind these individuals who surpassed infamy to become truly notorious.

Jo Frost: Killer Kids
Friday, March 22 @ 7pm

This four part documentary explores the shocking subject of children who kill. Parenting expert and “Supernanny” Jo Frost presents her most challenging assignment yet, examining cases that shocked the nation. Are some kids just born evil?

Mariah Carey: The Diva, The Drama
Sunday, March 24 @ 8pm

When it comes to fame and genre defining talent, few rival Mariah Carey. One of the best-selling female artists of all time with more than 200 million records sold, Carey has set legendary benchmarks throughout her 18-year career as a singer and songwriter. But it wasn’t all No. 1 hits, magazine covers and glamorous red carpets. See the inside story on how the superstar changed music while battling numerous setbacks both professionally and personally.

Texas Legislative Session – Privacy Issues

Cable companies want to ensure that you and your personal data are safe while online. Customer privacy is one of the primary issues the Texas Cable Association is working on with lawmakers and interested stakeholders during the ongoing Texas legislative session. Two bills have been filed in the Texas House of Representatives. Privacy is a priority to the cable industry because we are the leading broadband provider, with about two-thirds of all high-speed internet subscribers, and because we have made a commitment to our customers to protect their data.

The issue of privacy has come to the forefront on both the state and federal levels as more Americans than ever are on the internet – 77 percent of Americans connect to the internet every day, and, in each household, consumers connect nearly 15 devices to the internet. 

On the state level, the Texas Cable Association is monitoring two bills that relate to the privacy of a consumer’s personal identifying information collected by certain businesses: HB 4390 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) and HB 4518 by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio).

At the federal level, hearings on data privacy were held by Senate and House committees in late February. The chair of the Senate Commerce Committee has said he hopes to have federal privacy bill to the president in 2019. Among the issues to be settled is whether the federal law will permit states to pass their own rules and how far regulators should go to restrict companies’ use of data.

Cable companies already are subject to strict federal regulations on what they can do with your data. In fact, the data collected by multichannel video programming distributors, including cable, has been called “among the most well-protected data sets in American business.

Personal information collected by cable companies is subject to privacy regulations and oversight under the Cable Act, which includes prohibitions on disclosure without prior consent from the customer. In addition, internet service providers – including cable companies – each have a privacy policy that offers consumers choice as to how their data is used. 

Members of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association (an industry trade group to which the Texas Cable Association and individual cable companies belong) and nearly every U.S. internet service provider have reiterated their commitment to privacy principles. These principles are based on the FTC’s successful privacy regime, which for over 20 years applied to all internet companies and still applies to the world’s largest data collectors.

Charter Communications recently stated its support for privacy protections that put consumers first:

“In order to have confidence in their online activities, consumers need to trust that the law gives them the same privacy and security protections regardless of which Internet entity (e.g., search engine, social media site, ISP, advertising company, data broker, etc.) has access to their data or where they go on the Internet. National uniformity is also critical so that consumers know that privacy protections do not depend on where they live, work or travel.”

Read Charter’s full statement and view an accompanying video.

The cable industry’s support of protective proposals is nothing new. In April 2018, NCTA’s Powell stated:

“A technology-neutral, federal framework of online consumer protection is a first step to restoring America’s faith in our digital future. When consumers go online, they shouldn’t have to think about what state they are in, and they shouldn’t need an engineering or law degree to understand what privacy requirements apply to different online services and what kind of entity may be engaged in blocking or throttling. They want to know that their personal data is protected, that their choices as consumers are respected, and that practices resulting in unfair discrimination or otherwise violating the spirit of internet openness will be punished swiftly.”

Learn more about the cable industry’s commitment to customer privacy, as outlined by NCTA.

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