FCC Threatens Governmental and Public Channels

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Trump’s FCC chair Ajit Pai is a busy guy.  Every month or two, a new piece of the precious little public interest media regulation we have left,  goes on the chopping block.

The current victims are governmental, educational and public channels given to local communities as a benefit for a monopoly on using the cable infrastructure.

The FCC’s proposed rules would let cable companies count in-kind benefits as payments towards franchise fees, basically taking a huge chunk out of the funds that pay for governmental and public access TV and forcing cities and counties to make up the difference out of their general funds, or reduce services.

Comcast doesn’t need a discount on the pitifully small amount they provide in public benefits in exchange for the rights of way.

So we need to say hell no.

File a comment here. Enter proceeding # 05-311.

Comment deadline closes on December 14.

On October 30,  Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) led ten of his colleagues in expressing concerns about the FCC proposal to alter the terms of governing agreements between Local Franchising Authorities (LFA) and cable operators.

Our constituents watch PEG channels to monitor local government proceedings, hear the latest news from nearby college campuses, and consume other locally produced programming including emergency alerts and directives,” write the Senators in their letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We fear this proposal will result in a dire drop in resources for PEG channels throughout the nation.”

A copy of the letter can be found below.

FCC Franchise Fee Proposal

There are more than 1,500 public, educational, and governmental studios/operations and an estimated 3,000 PEG channels in America. Religious programming represents 30 percent of local access programming. Tens of thousands of hours of programming is produced by veterans, seniors, the disabled and ethnic, minority and second language groups.

Other Senators signing the letter include Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).

 

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