Alert: Congressional Hearing on PEG Jan 29

Posted on January 28, 2008 - 11:22am.

Note: Saveaccess will be liveblogging this hearing - join us online Tuesday at 1:00 pm (EST)


A rare and historic Congressional hearing on PEG access television is being held this Tuesday, Jan 29th, 1:00 pm (EST): "Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Services in the Digital TV Age."

ACM member Annie Folger, Executive Director of the Midpeninsula Community Media Center in Palo Alto, will be one of the hearing's witnesses. Full Witness List

This House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing is in response to attempts by Comcast to move all their access channels in Michigan to the 900s - a move which would require all analog service subscribers to obtain a more expensive digital set-top box for each of their TV sets. Comcast contended that recently passed legislation in Michigan allowed this move. A number of Michigan cities disagreed and filed suits, succeeding in temporarily stopping the move. On January 15 the House Commerce Committee, chaired by John Dingell (MI), issued this press release on the matter, calling for a hearing.

This hearing provides a number of unique opportunities for PEG access advocates to have their voices heard, to halt perhaps and maybe even roll back some of the recent assaults on PEG access channels. Recent legislative assaults against communities' access channels include:

* Loss of funding (Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina; Florida and Georgia will end in 3-4 years)
* Loss of capital payments (no payments have been made in Indiana)
* Costly new AT&T transmission fees (in Ohio, centers estimate $100,000 of annual fees just to transmit signals now transmitted free as franchise commitments for use of rights-of-way)
* Channel slamming - the shifting of PEG access channels to outer, unwatched reaches (Florida and Michigan)
* Charges for boxes to receive PEG access on digital tiers (Florida and Michigan)
* New limits of number of localities served by their own PEG channels (AT&T in Nevada and Ohio is limiting the number of PEG channels based on how many communities are served by their transmission hubs)
* Loss of ability to send closed-captioning or SAP signals
* Loss of viewers' ability to record PEG programming
* Loss of free cable drops to schools, libraries, police stations, and other municipal facilities (Michigan)

Here are a number of actions we all can take which will help ensure our message of protecting local access channels is effectively heard. We urge you all to make your voice heard in this matter as much as is possible.


Fax to your congressional representatives your concerns that PEG access channels should not be weakened, reduced, or eliminated by FCC actions, state legislation, or onerous requirements such as AT&T's U-Verse. Follow up that fax with a phone call to your representative's telecommunications staff person. A list of the Telecommunications Subcommittee members' phone and fax numbers are below. If your representatives are not on that Subcommittee, ask them to share your concerns with all those members from your state's delegation who are.

If you officially represent an access channel, of course use your channel's letterhead for your fax, and include some information about the reach and impact of your channel(s). See for example the letter from Salem, Oregon's Capital Community Television, also attached.

Please also send your faxes to us here at the ACM - 202-393-2653.


Listen to the hearing streamed live, and - this is important - carefully note the impact made by your state's representatives.


* Follow up with your congressional representatives, with both a fax and a phone call. Thank them if they took supportive action, call them out if they were silent, and express your dissatisfaction if they took actions hostile to PEG access.

* Write op-eds or letters to the editors of your local papers about the hearings. Respond on-line to press and blog posts about the hearings wherever comments are allowed. Visit our press clippings blog to stay on top of this story.

* Contact your ACM regional leaders to stay informed about further actions being coordinated by the ACM to protect PEG access channels.

* Plan to attend the ACM conference in Washington, D.C., July 9-12. A central feature of this year's conference will be attendees' coordinated visits to their congressional representatives’ offices.

We sincerely thank you for your participation, and for your on-going commitment and contributions to your communities. Please call us if you have any questions.

from: The Alliance for Community Media

Congressional Commerce SubCommittee Contacts:

District D/R Representative Ph: DC Fax: DC Ph: District
CA-14 D Anna Eshoo 202-225-8104 202-225-8890 650-323-2984
CA-19 R George Radanovich 202-225-4540 202-225-3402 209-579-5458
CA-23 D Lois Capps 202-225-3601 202-225-5632 805-730-1710
CA-32 D Hilda Solis 202-225-5464 202-225-5467 323-307-9904
CA-36 D Jane Harman 202-225-8220 202-226-7290 310-643-3636
CA-45 R Mary Bono Mack 202-225-5330 202-225-2961 760-320-1076
FL-06 R Cliff Stearns 202-225-5744 202-225-3973 352-337-0003
GA-09 R Nathan Deal 202-225-5211 202-225-8272 770-535-2592
IL-01 D Bobby Rush 202-225-4372 202-226-0333 773-224-6500
IL-19 R John Shimkus 202-225-5271 202-225-5880 618-344-3065
IN-09 D Baron Hill 202-225-5315 202-226-6866 812-336-3000
MA-07 D Ed Markey 202-225-2836 202-225-5288 781-396-2900
MI-01 D Bart Stupak 202-225-4735 202-225-4744
MI-06 R Fred Upton 202-225-3761 202-225-4986 269-385-0039
MI-15 D John Dingell 202-225-4071 202-225-2525 313-278-2936
MS-03 R Charles Pickering 202-225-5031 202-225-5797 601-693-6681
NE-02 R Lee Terry 202-225-4155 402-397-9944
NJ-06 D Frank Pallone 202-225-4671 202-225-9665 732-249-8892
NJ-07 R Mike Ferguson 202-225-5361 202-225-9460 908-757-7835
NM-01 R Heather Wilson 202-225-6316 202-225-4975 505-346-6781
NY-10 D Edolphus Towns 202-225-5936 202-225-1018 718-855-8018
NY-13 R Vito Fosella 202-225-3371 202-226-1272 718-356-8400
NY-17 D Eliot Engel 202-225-2464 202-225-5513 718-796-9700
OR-02 R Greg Walden 202-225-6730 202-225-5774 541-776-4646
PA-14 D Mike Doyle 202-225-2135 202-225-3084 412-261-5091
TN-06 D Bart Gordon 202-225-4231 615-898-1986
TX-06 R Joe Barton 202-225-2002 202-225-3052 817-543-1000
TX-20 D Charles Gonzalez 202-225-3236 202-225-1915 210-472-6195
TX-29 D Gene Green 202-225-1688 202-225-9903 281-999-5879
VA-09 D Rick Boucher 202-225-3861 202-225-0442 540-980-4310
WA-01 D Jay Inslee 202-225-6311 202-225-1606 206-361-0233
WY-AL R Barbara Cubin 202-225-2311 202-225-3057 307-261-6595
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