Source: United States Senator for Massachusetts – Elizabeth Warren
July 30, 2019
Washington, DC – United States Senator Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in urging the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to protect public, educational, or governmental (PEG) stations as it proposes changes to the rules governing agreements between Local Franchising Authorities and cable operators. Currently, cable franchise agreements with towns and cities are required to meet demonstrated community needs by providing in-kind contributions that benefit schools, public safety buildings, and PEG channels. However, the Commission’s current proposal would permit 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. The FCC will vote on this change at its meeting on Thursday, August 1. If implemented, the Order would force local governments to decide between supporting PEG stations in cable franchise agreements and supporting other important services for critical community institutions like schools and libraries.
“[PEG] stations connect Americans to their communities, catalyze civic engagement, and keep us up to date on the local issues and activities that affect our lives,” write the senators in their letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Your proposal would force local governments to decide between supporting PEG stations and supporting other important services for critical community institutions like schools and public safety buildings. We strongly urge the Commission to avoid any policy changes that will harm PEG channels and limit needed services to the communities we represent.”
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. Veterans, seniors, the disabled, and ethnic, minority and second language groups produce tens of thousands of hours of programming.
Other Senators signing the letter are Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn).