Washington (October 30, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, this week led ten of his colleagues in expressing concerns about the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) proposal to alter the terms of governing agreements between Local Franchising Authorities (LFA) and cable operators. 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 setting aside channels for public, educational, or governmental (PEG) stations. However, the Commission’s proposal would permit cable companies to assign a value to these channels, and then subtract that amount, and the value they place on any other in-kind contributions, from the franchise fees the cable operator pays the local community.
“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 HERE.
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).