Blackburn holds broadband conference, bans media coverage

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn met with “what appeared to be at least 100 area business and electrical coop executives at Columbia State Community College” – plus, reportedly, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – but barred media from attending, according to the Marshall County Tribune.

When your editor of the Marshall County Tribune attempted to gain access to the meeting, Blackburn’s Press Secretary Abby Lemons said, “This meeting is closed to press. This meeting is off the record.”

…Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) left Blackburn’s meeting to discuss with the Tribune Governor Haslam’s Rural Broadband initiative, announced recently.

The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act will provide $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. In addition, the law will permit the state’s private, nonprofit electrical cooperatives to provide retail broadband service and make grant funding available to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve digital literacy skills to maximize the benefits of broadband.

Many of the businesses represented at the meeting could be in competition for the same customers.

Tennessee taxpayers will pay for Internet service where it doesn’t exist now, and it might make all internet service faster.

“We need better access, not bigger government,” Sen. Norris said. “Broadband is critical to commerce and the quality of life for every Tennessean and is essential for our current and future education and economic initiatives.”

One Response to Blackburn holds broadband conference, bans media coverage

  • David A. Collins says:

    I remember that years ago the road builders in Tennessee used to meet secretly in order to rig the bids for upcoming state road projects. When caught (and prosecuted) their excuse was that by agreeing in advance which builder would be the “low bidder” on each project had the effect of spreading the wealth among all of them thereby allowing all to make a living. Reckon that’s what happened in Blackburn’s “off the record” no-media broadband meeting? You did say that many of the businesses represented at the meeting could be in competition for the same customers. Wonder if they figured out a way to “spread the wealth” like the road builders did?

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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