THE FEDERAL ASSAULT ON LOCAL MEDIA AND MUNICIPALITIES
Please help us stop the Federal Communications Commission from gutting funding for Somerville Media Center. Make your voice heard in support of community media around the country.The deadline for initial comments was on November 14, 2018 and the Reply Comments were on December 14, 2018. This is an opportunity to target initial comments with a rebuttal. Read on for the specific actions we’re asking you to take, but first here is some background to help you understand the issue. Here is a related article on the topic produced by WGBH and another produced by DigBoston.
BACKGROUND: Cable Franchise Fees and the Cable Communications Act of 1984
The FCC’s “Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM) on Cable Franchising” was published in the Federal Register on October 15. This proposed Rule seeks to redefine and place a value on cable franchise obligations that have been traditionally defined as “In-Kind” (backhaul of signal, IPG, possibly our PEG channels themselves). The result would be to charge these “expenses” back against the franchise fee and essentially undermine the intent of the Cable Communications Act of 1984. The Cable Communications Act of 1984 is important legislation that created the framework and funding which today sustains PEG Access TV and a vital nationwide network of hundreds of community TV channels in cities, towns, counties, and villages from Belfast, Maine to Berkeley, California. The national impact on PEG Access and local municipalities could be devastating.
As giant commercial media companies get even larger, PEG Access Centers remains a small, non-commercial & hyper-local media hub, where local governments can connect to constituents; where teachers and students leverage leading-edge educational technology; and where local residents can help produce and watch real news about real people and stay informed about real issues that affect Somerville.
If those payments go away, so will youth media programs, media production trainings, special digital literacy classes, media services for nonprofit, city committee meeting coverage, coverage of local issues and events, community forums and non-partisan election debates, live and archived transparent city meetings, school committee and alderman meetings, community-accessible and emerging media equipment, studios and resources, and the production of thousands of hours of unique local programming. The deadline to submit comments has ended. However, monitor this website for updates on how to contact your local and state representatives.