WASHINGTON — Saying that the Comcast-Time Warner transfers and spin-offs puts Public, Educational and Government access television at risk, American Community Television filed comments in the FCC proceeding to review the transactions.
“We risk having to deal with a giant monopoly that will run rough-shod over PEG channels and local communities,” said John Rocco, ACT president. “Comcast won’t just be handing over huge parts of the upper Midwest to Charter and then walking away; Comcast will own a substantial portion of the ‘New Charter’ and the spin-off, Midwest Cable.”
The comments included an overview of PEG setbacks that have occurred over the last ten years, to include:loss of funding; slamming PEG channels into the upper 900’s; charging the municipality for the transmission of the channels; PEG access closures in various states; hard-ball negotiating tactics on behalf of the cable operators; lack of a programming guide description and the inability to deliver PEG on a video-on-demand platform or to record PEG programming via a DVR.
In its comments, ACT said, “We request that the Commission protect PEG access television by rejecting the proposed transaction as not being in the public interest or conditioning the proposed transactions on curing the various problems we outline in these comments with significant conditions to protect PEG and prevent further consolidation of the traditional cable industry.”
“There is no doubt that these transactions, this shuffling of the deck, threatens PEG access television,” said Rocco, “As they grow bigger they will push back on their public interest obligations, especially PEG and frankly, there won’t be a lot that local communities can do to stop it. We want to see some guarantees that PEG will be protected in this environment.”
ACT was joined in the comments by the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.