Stop the FCC from Defunding PEG Channels & Community Media Centers like Marin TV

UPDATE August 2019
The FCC voted 3-2 (R-D) to approve the draft order 621 today. That was no surprise. The final order will be released in about a week - we'll know more then. Some interpretation of the order as it now stands:

1) FCC commissioner O’reilly pushed hard for PEG transport fees (use of fiber line between PEG and Cable operator) to be deducted from Franchise Fees (FF) - this may included in the final order. If so - CMCM could be charged for our connection to Comcast used to deliver the channels.

2) Values determined by cable companies for iNets and free cable drops will now be deducted from FF. This has no impact on CMCM since AT&T eliminated those public benefits 10 years ago when they passed the CA State Video Franchise (DIVCA). Note: Having decimated PEG in 21 states, AT&T has since ceased their rollout of U-Verse and now sells satellite TV service.

3) A proposed Change of Timing to determine if PEG Channel capacity could be charged for. Commissioner O’reilly wants to set a one year deadline for determining this issue. If passed, cable operators could deduct value of channels from FF in the future. This could be catastrophic as it would allow cable operators to set arbitrary values for the PEG cable channel capacity and deduct that amount from franchise fees paid to the cities.

4) Definition of PEG fee capital spending was 'somewhat' defined in more favorable terms, but we'll see how cable companies interpret the FCC's vague approach.


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On September 25, 2018, the FCC issued proposed rulemaking (Docket 05-311) that could have a catastrophic impact on Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) cable access channels and media centers around the country. If these rules pass, it could have a disastrous impact on Marin TV and the Community Media Center of Marin. We are calling on all supporters to take a moment to file comments with the FCC expressing your disapproval of their proposed actions. Instructions for filing comments are available on this page ( Initial comments must be filed by Wednesday, November 14, Reply comments can be filed through December 14.

What's at stake?
The new FCC rulemaking allows cable companies to assess the value for 'in kind' services related to providing PEG channels and deduct that amount from the Franchise Fees passed to cities. These loosely defined 'in kind' costs can include the 'value' of the cable channels themselves as well as any other services provided (such as institutional networks, channel programming guides, cable drops to fire stations, schools, etc). The FCC fails to set any guidelines or limitations to the values that cable companies can assess and it's conceivable that cable companies could zero out franchise fee payments to cities entirely with arbitrary value assessments. The FCC rulemaking could force cities to reconsider their use of PEG channels in order to maintain their current franchise fee levels. This pits the interests of cities against the interests of their communities simply for the benefit of cable company profits.

In the Cable Act legislation of 1984, Congress wisely established Franchise Fees and PEG Fees as a condition for cable operators providing commercial cable TV services. Franchise fees are often described as 'rent' for the commercial access and use to the public right of ways within a municipality. These fees help cover the associated costs to cities from cable TV installations and also help fund other municipal public services. PEG fees can optionally be established by a municipality to provide for the capital equipment necessary to the operations of local PEG channels. Both Franchise and PEG fees are public interest obligations that ensure the commercial media being pumped into residents homes is balanced by meaningful non-commercial locally originated content. Non-commercial PEG channels are unique, they provide an important means of free speech via the public channel, government transparency and communication with residents via the government channel and an educational channel available for use by local schools and universities. It's important to note that Cable companies do not pay Franchise or PEG fees, these fees are paid by cable subscribers and merely pass through the cable companies to the cities. The new FCC rulemaking will not change the amount currently charged to cable subscribers, it merely allows cable companies to keep this money.

This FCC rulemaking comes on the heels of the recent 5G rules by the FCC. Those rules establish expedited permitting for telephone providers to install 5G microwave units (pizza boxes) in communities around the country. That rules also reduce the permit fees that can be charged, an estimated loss of 4 Billion annually to cities. In addition, cities lose control over the locations of the placement of these units, in effect losing the ability to effectively manage the public right of way. The current cable related rulemaking (05-311) is seen by many observers as the reciprocal payback to cable companies by a FCC majority that favors corporate profits over the public interest.

Important Links
File an Express Comment with the FCC for Docket 05-311

Read the FCC Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second FNPRM),

Read Comments already filed for RM 05-311

Summary of FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regarding In-Kind Contributions as Applied to PEG Channels - Cohen Law Group

Is Community Access TV On The FCC Chopping Block? WGBH

Media Alliance Article on this FCC Action

A Proposed FCC Rule Change Could Put An End To Local Access TV Stations

FCC is at it again: Proposed changes to benefit big cable, harm local access channels