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PEG Channels Defend Their Constitutionality in the US Supreme Court

January 18, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Wassenaar, ACM (612) 298-3805

The Alliance for Community Media filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court today defending the constitutionality of thousands of PEG Access cable channels that serve communities across the United States. The brief rejects arguments to the Supreme Court by NCTA, the cable industry’s trade association, in a case that revolves around the rights of public access television producers and private non-profit public access channel operators.

“NCTA is attempting to hijack the dispute between Manhattan Neighborhood Network and public access producers Dee Dee Halleck and Jesus Papoleto Menendez to push an agenda that would silence the voices of thousands of communities across the United States,” said ACM President and CEO Mike Wassenaar. “The Court should reject their attempt to inject their self-interested concerns into the proceeding.”

ACM was joined by the Alliance for Communications Democracy and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) in filing the brief. Together, the organizations represent thousands of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access channels in all fifty states.

While the Supreme Court case Manhattan Cable Access Corporation vs Halleck revolves around the question of whether a private operator of a public access channel should be considered a state actor for the purpose of running a public forum for free speech, NCTA had attempted in an earlier amicus brief to claim that ALL access channels authorized in the 1984 Cable Act unconstitutionally infringe on the free speech rights of cable operators. ACM and its allies refute their claims as wrong on both the facts and legal precedent.

“Local government, educational institutions, non-profits, religious organizations and plain folks across the United States that rely upon PEG channels to express themselves, educate others and monitor the goings on of our democracy will be irreparably harmed if the cable industry gets its way and subverts this case” said Wassenaar. “We hope the Court will focus on the facts at hand in the case, and not be led on a corporate activist adventure.”

The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the case on February 25, 2019. A copy of the ACM Amicus Brief is here.