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Weekly News from the President: FCC Disability Workshop

In case you missed last week’s Disability Rights Workshop on PEG and Closed Captioning at the FCC, you can find it archived on their website https://www.fcc.gov/events/roundtable-discussion-closed-captioning-public-access-and-governmental-programming

Here are a couple of key takeaways:

PEG Channels with under $3 million in yearly revenue per channel are exempt by statute from FCC captioning mandates set in 1998.

Americans with Disabilities Act requirements of local governments apply to their channels. There are procedures for determining whether there is undue financial burden for providing accommodation that governments need to follow if they cannot reasonably afford captioning.

Closed Captioning has many benefits to multiple communities – and more cost effective solutions are being developed – but we need greater funding and less restrictive rules for what to do with our current funding to expand service to all Americans.

It was also pretty clear that the FCC, the Justice Department and Disability Rights activists value PEG channels but need a lot of education about the reality of our day-to-day operations. This was a good first step.

Philly Comcast hearings

I got a healthy dose of local politics in action last week in Philadelphia. The Comcast Franchise renewal was being reviewed by a City Council committee at a public hearing that lasted late into the evening last Thursday.

The 15-year proposal would give $18 million of support for PEG channels and set aside $9 million for public access provider PhillyCAM.  For a city the size of Philadelphia – the fifth largest city in the U.S. – that’s not a lot.

And that’s precisely what the committee heard from a throng of PEG supporters and experts who testified – including yours truly.

Here’s hoping the city comes up with a stronger deal for the people of Philadelphia. They deserve it.

New Charter filings

“We have good reason to believe that the PEG channels that come under the management of New Charter are likely to suffer harm.”  That’s the analysis of Wisconsin Community Media in their comments to the FCC on the proposed Charter Time Warner merger.

WCM surveyed over 50 channels in Wisconsin and looked at the problems they collectively have with Charter compared to Time Warner. Their comments (http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=60001308725) actually look at the substance of whether the public interest will be harmed in the state if the merger is approved.  That’s in stark contrast to the few endorsements the deal got from a handful of PEG operations across the U.S., which doesn’t even talk about the harms the deal will have on our industry.

You can find ACM’s replies to the FCC on the deal here:   http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=60001308424

We’ll be working with partners to talk about our concerns with the FCC in the months ahead, and I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Webinar 12/1 on App Development and Community Media.  

We’ll talk with four organizations that have developed mobile applications to reach and engage with audiences. Each of the community media organizations is a different size, and each has taken a different approach. Join us on 12/1 at 3:30ET and get notes on how to expand the reach of your channel with applications.

You can register for the webinar here https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EC52DE8787493D

ACM Members should use the discount code INDMEMBER or ORGMEMBER when they register!