Senator Markey: FCC Vote Imperils Community Television

 

Washington (August 2, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) vote to revise existing rules governing contracts between cable operators and local governments.

 

“Yesterday, the Trump FCC dealt another blow to local journalism and the platforms that lift up community voices,” said Senator Markey. “The Commission voted on party lines to allow cable companies to shirk their obligations to the towns and cities where they operate, and I’m concerned that public, educational, and government television stations across the country will be hit particularly hard by this decision. PEG stations catalyze civic engagement, educate our children, and employ our neighbors. They serve an important role in our increasingly globalized and consolidated media landscape, and I will continue to fight to ensure that they are able to provide their critical services to viewers in Massachusetts and beyond.” 

 

Currently, towns and cities across the country are permitted to require as part of cable franchise agreements that cable operators meet demonstrated community needs by providing in-kind contributions that benefit schools, public safety buildings, and public, educational, and government (PEG) channels. However, the Commission’s decision today permits cable companies to assign a value to these contributions and then subtract that amount from the franchise fees the cable operator pays the local community. As a result, local governments will have to decide between supporting PEG stations in cable franchise agreements and supporting other important services for critical community institutions like schools and libraries.  

 

Earlier this week, Senator Markey led 15 of his colleagues urging the FCC to protect PEG stations. 

 

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.

 

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