On April 1st we attended a roundtable discussion and press conference with Senator Ed Markey and representatives from access stations across the commonwealth to defend the future of PEG (Public Access, Education & Government) channels on cable.
To provide a short-form – and yes, this is the short-form explanation – Providers such as Comcast and Verizon (Xfinity & FIOS) pay a 5% fee on profits back to cities and towns in return for using public right of ways to run their infrastructure. While the specifics of how those funds are distributed vary in each municipality, there would be no LETV or LCTV in Lynn without them.
And contrary to popular misconception, your tax dollars do not go towards PEG channels and programs. However, providers do list a line on your bill as they pass the cost onto their customers. It’s not very much, and don’t be fooled for a minute that your bills will decrease if their obligations decrease.
The FCC is taking up for discussion allowing providers to deduct from the funds going to cities and towns the value of the infrastructure – putting our future at risk. Imagine, no more municipal meeting coverage, no more school television production programs, and your own LCTV shows may be in jeopardy.
What can you do?
Educating yourself on the issue and helping us to share are big first steps. Below are short recaps of our meeting courtesy of MassAccess, who also organized the meeting. After that we have embedded the full press conference, courtesy of our friends at Belmont Media.
After this, please sign this online petition. This will help show members of Congress how important this service is to our communities.
Markey Starts “Revolution” in Massachusetts
April 1, 2019 – Dozens of community media professionals gathered this morning at the John F. Kennedy Federal building in Boston to join Senator Ed Markey (D, MA) in a roundtable discussion and press conference regarding the FCC’s recent proposed rulemaking around funding for community media stations. This rulemaking would redefine what cable companies using public rights of way owe back to local communities and could have catastrophic effects on the operation of community media stations in Massachusetts and beyond. Senator Markey was also joined by Geoffrey Beckwith, the Executive Director & CEO of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini-Burke and MassAccess President, Melinda Garfield. Panelists fielded questions and listened to success stories of community media all across the Commonwealth.
“We’re the revolutionary state and this is where the revolution begins against the Federal Communications Commission,” said Senator Markey in his press conference. “This is where the fight begins, and we’re going to spread this across the whole country, because at jeopardy is nothing less than democracy, nothing less than the voices of ordinary citizens in every single city and town in Massachusetts and the whole country, and we are in now for the fight.” The fight itself actually began in the later part of 2018, when the FCC opened a comment period on its proposed rulemaking. A delegate from MassAccess visited the FCC along with representatives of the Alliance for Community Media in March and the office of each commissioner expressed surprise at the outpouring of support from not only community media professionals, but viewers, municipal authorities and state legislators as well.
” The FCC would have you believe that community media is an antiquated ideal or a relic of a previous technological era – but they are simply ill informed. Community media has evolved from its modest roots to become a staple in the fabric of the communities we serve – and its loss would be felt for decades to come.” Added Garfield during her comments. The FCC has given no indication to this point on a timetable for decision regarding this matter.