J.J. Smith Out of 105 organizations that responded to the FCC’s call for comments for inclusion in the 15th report to Congress on the “Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming” issued July 20, 2012, at least 83 were public, education and government channels, or PEG-related groups.
The number of PEG respondents providing comments to the report, which the FCC approved on July 19 to be sent to Congress, might be higher, but nine cities listed are not specifically identified as PEG channels. Rather, they are identified as “the city of…” So if they are government channels, which seems likely, that would place the number of PEG respondents at 92.
Whether it is 83 or 92, the report fails to acknowledge that PEG organizations overwhelmingly responded to the commission’s request for comments.
I am sure it was not deliberate, but that is an example of PEG organizations again getting short shrift by the FCC. For those who want further proof that PEG is not on the commission’s radar only have to read the FCC’s announcement on the agency’s adoption of the report. It lists areas such as multichannel video programming distributors, broadcast television stations and online video distributors.
PEG is not even mentioned.
In the report, PEG first appears on page 29 under the heading “Public Interest Programming” where it states that while cable operators are obligated to carry PEG channels on their basic service tier, some state franchising laws have removed or reduced the PEG requirements found in local franchising agreements leading to a decline in funding and support for PEG channels.
Under the same heading, the report said several comments outline “the importance of PEG programming to local communities.” It lists the PEG advocacy groups American Community Television and the Alliance for Community Media as the sources of information that PEG channels fill voids in local coverage due to media consolidation and loss of local media outlets.
ACM filed comments that indicate community media is expanding production and distribution services to non-commercial and low-power radio, Internet streaming, podcasts, social media and mobile applications.
ACT provided the information that compares the average number of hours per year—about 1,500— local broadcast stations spend on production with the 1,250 average number of hours per year government stations spend on production; with the 1,500 hours per year that education channels spend on production; and the 2,000 hours per year public access stations spend on production.
The information listed in the preceding four paragraphs is from two paragraphs in the report. Those paragraphs are reflective of how PEG is treated in the report. It just shoots data at the reader without taking a position. That lack of a position makes the report seem to be nothing more than an exercise in busy work. It gives short shrift to the concerns of the PEG organizations, and those more than 80 percent—who took the time to file a response— deserve better than that.