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Weekly News from the President: Thrilled?

Thrilled?

I read a quote this week from a supporter of PEG Access in the trade press who said they were “thrilled” about AT&T buying DirecTV. I read the quote twice and then again.

I’m not “thrilled” about this multi-billion dollar mega-merger – bigger than Comcast TWC; or “happy” about communities in 22 states losing resources to create PEG programs; or “enthusiastic” about the loss of local programs for 5.7 million households; or “tickled” at the prospect of one of the largest telecomm provider in the U.S. getting bigger; or “encouraged” that a corporation is rewarded after destroying public interest requirements; and I’m not “looking forward” to the possible demise of localism across the U.S.

Because that’s what at stake in the AT&T DirecTV merger.  And it’s why groups like ACM, Common Cause, Alliance for Communications Democracy, Public Knowledge and Free Press are all against the deal. Even our partner NATOA while they have stopped short of asking for denial of the merger has expressed serious concerns to the FCC.

If you’re in one of AT&T’s 22 states that carry UVerse – say Wisconsin, Ohio, California or Texas – and if the merger goes through and UVerse television is no longer offered, cable franchise fees will disappear. That money from 5.7 million subscribers is not peanuts. It pays for basic services and PEG television.

And if AT&T only sells DirecTV in those states, there goes any possible benefit that PEG provides for those households.

And what do you think will happen when one of the largest video providers in the country offers an over-the-top video package with NO PEG requirement? We all can easily imagine EVERY cable provider will ask for similar treatment.

ACM is trying to promote and build local community television across the country. So I am not “thrilled” at this merger, and it’s why’re we’re asking people and organizations to stop it.

Go to Free Press’ petition site and say “NO” to the merger and “YES” to common sense.  The link is here.

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A big thank you is in order to Senators Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Ed Markey of Massachusetts for their longstanding support of community access television, and their re-introduction this past week of S. 1244, the Community Access Preservation Act.

They are proposing two changes to the act: one calling for HD requirements, and another calling for program guide insertion. ACM supports the measure and the principles it promotes. You can see Senator Baldwin’s press release introducing the Act here.

Join us on Wednesday May 20 at 3pm ET for a webinar on building strong youth media programs. We’ll be gathering experts in the field to take your questions on ways to build youth programs, assess community needs, start new initiatives and build capacity for your organization. Come with your questions! Register