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WI: Cable Choice Bill: Could Hurt Community Television

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Created 04/21/2007 - 6:47pm

from: WEAU News [1]

Cable Choice Bill: Could Hurt Community Television

Apr 19, 2007
Reporter: Meghan Kulig
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A state bill designed to encourage competition among TV providers could actually end up hurting local community television stations.

State Representatives Terry Moulton and Jeff Wood have now come up with an amendment to the Cable Choice Bill that would extend some of the stations’ most important funding sources, called PEG fees.

Eau Claire’s Community Television station is approaching its 30th year of providing public, educational and government programming.

"What we do is we really provide CSPAN style coverage of local government so that people can have the opportunity to see what their local government is doing from the comfort of their own living room, CTV Executive Director Joel Desprez said.

But Executive Director, Joel Desprez, says the Cable Choice Bill would cut-off the PEG fees that keep the station going.

"That amounts to about half our annual funding, and it's a very important part of our funding,” Desprez said.

Moulton and Wood's amendment would allow the PEG fee to be extended for another 3 years, giving Community Television stations time to work with municipalities to continue funding. But Desprez says there's still need to worry.

"It really doesn't solve our problem,” Desprez said. “It only, you know, sets it out about 3 years so that we've got 3 years to figure out what to do. The real possibility is that we will severely curtail our service and may end up eliminating our service just because it's such a big blow to lose that percentage of your funding."

It’s a move Desprez says would not only cut down on the station’s ability to air government meetings in-full, but also hurts other community groups in the process.

"We have over 100 non-profit organizations that have, over the past few years, used us to get the word out about what they do in the community,” Desprez said.

Now, after decades of service, Desprez says the station is a fixture in the community. One he hopes will be around for years to come.

“We're long past the stage where we're some kind of experiment,” Desprez said. “We're an important institution, we're an important part of this community."

To learn how you can help preserve your local Wisconsin community access channels, click on “Featured Links” at the top of your screen.

The State Assembly is scheduled to act on the bill on Tuesday, April 24th.

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