U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) jointly introduced legislation to help preserve and protect Public, Educational and Government access television channels across the country.
The introduction of the Community Access Preservation Act, was hailed by American Community Television as critical to saving hundreds of channels and thousands of jobs. The proposed legislation is in response to actions in 22 states that passed statewide or state-issued franchising laws since 2005, reducing or outright eliminating funding for PEG TV.
“ACT has been working with these offices and many others to create a solution that will reverse the harm done to PEG access television,” said John Rocco, president of American Community Television. “The CAP Act is critical to the survival of these important local television channels. We are already losing channels and could lose many more if we don’t restore the intent of the Cable Act, which found PEG access television important to local communities and democracy.”
Funding for PEG channels has been eliminated in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin. ACT estimates as many as 500 PEG channels in these states are at risk of shutting down. Additionally, PEG channels in several states have been slammed to channels in the the upper 900s, requiring basic tier cable customers to rent an additional piece of equipment to see the channels.
“Congress, through the cable acts of 1984 and 1992, intended to make sure that local communities could have PEG access channels and funding in return for the cable operators’ use of public rights-of-way,” said Rocco. “This legislation will restore what Congress intended and helps to secure a local community’s ability to use these channels to communicate. We want to thank Senators Baldwin and Markey for their work to save these channels.”
For more than 45 years, PEG access television has aired local government meetings, community events, educational and nonprofit programming, as well as individual programming. It is estimated there are more than 5,000 PEG access channels in the U.S., with more than two million hours of locally produced original programming each year.