On average, public, education and government (PEG) channels produce at least as much local programming as local broadcast stations, a PEG advocacy group tells the Federal Communications Commission.
The group, American Community Television (ACT) says PEG channels overall produce more local programming than local broadcast stations. “In comparison to local broadcast stations that produce approximately 1,500 hours of programming per year, government access produces 1,250 hours per year, educational access produces 1,500 hours per year and public access produces 2,000 hours per year.”
ACT was responding to an FCC notice of inquiry—Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming— that was issued by the commission on July 20, 2012 and which sought “data, information and comments on the state of competition in the delivery of video programming.”
ACT’s response stresses the importance of the PEG channels to their communities. “PEG access television channels are an increasingly important component of the nation’s media landscape. As media consolidation and the loss of local media outlets (such as newspapers) has rapidly risen, PEG access television fills a media information void by offering local information.”
ACT says depending on the community PEG access channels are managed as separate entities with separate facilities and equipment, or in different combinations of management, such as “public/government,” or “public/educational.” Because some PEG operations have three or more channels while others may only have one or two channels, ACT cannot say how many PEG channels are operational, but it cites estimates of from 2,000 to 2,500 PEG channel facilities in operation.
Also responding to the notice was the PEG group the Alliance for Community Media (ACM), as well as at least 103 PEG channels.
According to the ACM, the PEG facilities producing the most content far exceed the figures provided by ACT, which obtained that information from an online survey it conducted in 2010 in which 208 PEG channels provided their annual programming hours of “first run, locally-produced programs” for 2009. The combined total of the 208 PEG channels’ programming hours is 245,383, and ACM provided the FCC with the top 15 PEG channels from that list. Of those 15, the three channels with the most hours of locally-produced programs during 2009 are:
- Manhattan (N.Y.) Neighborhood Network, 13,210 hours.
- Queens (N.Y.) Public Television, 8,735 hours
- Chicago Access Network Television, 7,760 hours
While ACT and ACM stressed PEG channels service to their communities, ACT also listed state policies that are hurting PEG stations. Those channels “have been slammed to high digital tiers that require extra equipment to access them” in states with statewide or state issued franchising laws, ACT says. Some of the states, cable providers and PEG channels where that has occurred are:
- In Florida, Brighthouse Networks puts PEG channels in the 600s.
- In Missouri, Charter puts PEG channels in the 900s, and in order to access them, subscribers must rent additional equipment.
In addition, the passage of statewide, or state-issued cable franchising laws began in 2005 and, which the exception of Idaho, halted in 2008, ACT’s response says. However, in Nevada, Kansas and South Carolina, all funding for PEG access was eliminated on the effective date of the legislation and in Wisconsin PEG funding was eliminated on May 1, 2011. In Ohio, Missouri, Iowa and Florida PEG funding was eliminated on Jan. 1, 2012, and in Georgia and Idaho, funding was eliminated on July 1, 2012.