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SPC-TV has been actively monitoring several recent threats to local access television and municipal interests across the country. Here you can find links and resources to learn about these issues and add your voice to the chorus of citizens committed to preserving Public, Educational, and Governmental (‘PEG’) channels nationwide.
The FCC Recently ruled on this issue against Cities and Towns. The August 1, 2019 Third Report and Order allows Cable Operators to subtract the monetary value of any "in-kind" contributions to municipalities in excess of the legally-allowed 5% cap whether they are part of previously negotiated franchises or not. In other words the Order is an attempt to render null and void thousands of signed and currently active contracts across the country. And it provides a tool for Cable Operators to charge back the value of these in-kind contributions against the 5% they pay to cities and towns, thus reducing their payments. America's cities and towns may stand to lose billions. A good resource to read up on the Order is this article from the Massachusetts Municipal Association
On September 5, 2018 the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order which effectively strips the power of municipalities across the country to control their own public rights of way. The intent is to force communities to accept the deployment of new 5G wireless technology with unfavorable terms. While 5G technology is certainly beneficial, the FCC's approach has been to remove local control while simultaneously limiting municipalities' ability to charge fair market value for the lease of publicly owned spaces. Want to defend your city's ability to control its own property? Click here.
When Spectrum (Charter) moved SPC-TV's channels to number 1301 & 1302 on the cable system, a group of municipal officials, PEG station managers, the Office of the Maine Public Advocate, the Maine Municipal Association and others rallied forces to create a bill for the Maine legislature. By the end of the 2019 legislative session LD1371, sponsored by Republican Senator David Woodsome of Waterboro sailed through the legislature retrieving access channels from “digital Siberia” and was signed by Governor Janet Mills and is set to go into effect in November. According to Community Television Association of Maine (CTAM – ctamaine.org), this fall Spectrum will be required to put Community Television Channels back where they were 24 months ago and transmit them in HD if an HD signal is provided to them by the PEG originator. In addition, they will need to cable down to 15 homes per mile on all new cable franchises and comply with the other provisions outlined in the bill.
The outstanding question will be Spectrum’s willingness to comply with the new law, especially because cable companies aren’t regulated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission like electric, phone and water companies are. Therefore any decision by Spectrum not to comply would become an enforcement issue for the Maine Attorney General to pursue through the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act should the company simply snub its nose at Augusta.