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Vermont Public Utilities Commission denies Comcast’s appeal against providing schedule information for state PEG channels

August 3, 2017 – A statewide victory for Vermont public, educational and government (PEG) access channels is capturing nationwide attention with the July 27, 2017 announcement that The Vermont Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denied a motion filed by Comcast.

Review the order, Docket No. 8301 PDF

For several years, against Comcast’s legal obligations within the state’s guidelines, the schedules for the 45 PEG channels in the state have not been included on their electronic programming guide.

As a result of Comcast’s neglect to Vermont’s requirements, the Vermont PUC updated its rules for television service providers (i.e. Comcast) on operating business in their state. Referred as “The Renewal Order,” it included renewed and consolidated obligations that Comcast must follow. In summary, the Vermont PUC is demanding Comcast comply with the pre-existing contracted rules they are supposed to be following, and they must make the changes within their own expenses.

Comcast appealed this Renewal Order, arguing it never was operating out of terms of their agreement, and saying that providing the information would lead to increased costs for cable consumers.  

The Vermont PUC rejected Comcast’s arguments stating that Comcast was not in compliance with the current agreement for operating in the state of Vermont. The Commission further found that Comcast had made the program information unavailable as a result of the company’s “system design choices.” The Vermont PUC also noted Comcast had not asked to modify the agreement before it decided discontinue providing PEG channel on its programming schedule. Lastly, the Vermont PUC’s rejection concludes the cost to comply with this law would not prevent Comcast from making a fair rate of return on its investments.

The ruling is an important victory for PEG channels in Vermont. One of the top complaints PEG channels have about the cable industry is their lack of providing useful program information for paying consumers. PEG channels around the nation continue to battle cable corporations for similar issues displayed in this ruling.