Weekly News from the ACM President, Mike Wassenaar

2017 Webinars & Contacting Your Local Congressional Office

Posted: February 5, 2016

15 for 3: Contact Your Local Congressional Office
We are asking our members to contact their local congressional offices in coming month as part of our campaign to protect community media. That means I’d like you and your colleagues from your organization to take 15 minutes in the next month to make three phone calls.

It’s important to be heard, especially with all the changes, and craziness, in Washington right now. We are asking members, including their staff, volunteers and supporters to call the local offices of their Senators and Representatives.

That’s three phone calls to those local offices in your state.

We’ve prepared sample scripts to use and modify to talk about your station and your services, and why PEG community media is important in your community. We are now organizing all our members to make those three calls in the next month.

Will you join us? I will send you sample scripts and who to call if you email me at mwassenaar@allcommunitymedia.org.

Let’s take 15 for 3 this month!

Upcoming Webinars
We’ll begin our 2017 Webinar series on Wednesday, February 22 at 3:00pm EST with a discussion of Closed Captioning Requirements for PEG. You can sign up for the webinar this Wednesday, February 8. Stay on the lookout for further communications on registration.

Webinar Costs
Organizational Members – free
Individual Members – $5
Non-Members – $25

See the list here: http://www.allcommunitymedia.org/webinars

Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO

Upcoming Public Policy Calls

Posted: January 30, 2017

Public Policy Calls Coming Up This Week
We are expanding the opportunities for you and other ACM members to gather for ACM Public Policy briefings. We want to make sure that as many people as possible get updates and can discuss what’s happening with public policy on the national level.

Calls are taking place on the LAST TUESDAY and FIRST THURSDAY at 4pm ET.  As an example, this week they are taking place Tuesday 1/31 and Thursday 2/2 at 4pm ET.

Each call will have the same agenda, so do not feel that you have to make every one! This is mostly to make the briefing discussions available to more people.

If you need the call coordinates, please let me know via email at mwassenaar@allcommunitymedia.org.

Thanks for Filing with the FCC
I want to thank the organizations that have filed letters with the FCC about our petition to eliminate the requirement for PEG producers to register and certify their closed captioning status.

Let me know if you want sample language to send a letter on the matter to the Commission. The deadline for comments is February 8.

Community Media Day 2017
It’s not too early to start planning for this year’s Community Media Day, Friday October 20th. It will be the second year we are asking community media organizations around the country to plan activities to celebrate the work that happens every day in your communities.   

If you want to become a partner in this year’s events, go to their website and sign up.

Join us on Wednesday, February 15 at 3pm ET as we talk about what you can do to celebrate Community Media Day! The conference number to call in will be 202-768-7275.

Topic Ideas for ACM Conference!
We are still looking for topic and speaker ideas for this year’s national Annual Conference in Minneapolis. You can even propose something you’d like to speak on! Send them to me by end of business day on Wednesday, February 1.   

Thank you!
Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO

Ajit Pai as new FCC Chair?

Posted: January 23, 2017

Ajit Pai as new FCC Chair?
Press reports this weekend claim that Commissioner Ajit Pai may soon be named Chair of the FCC. If he is named by the Trump Administration, he would not need Senate confirmation as he already is on the Commission, and he would immediately lead a 2-1 Republican majority.

What are Commissioner Pai’s priorities? You can get a sense by looking at his profile on the FCC’s website. He wants less regulation and market solutions for problems, and most observers think that dismantling Net Neutrality protections will be a top priority for him. He has also expressed support for small towns, rural communities and public safety – and the wireless industry for which he once worked.    

What’s his relationship with Public, Educational and Government Access? It’s not clear, but he was generally impressed with the provided services during Arlington Independent Media a little over a year ago and has been a supporter of community radio.

Paul LeValley, Ajit Pai and Mike Wassenaar at the AIM Studios in Arlington, VA

We’ll keep you updated on changes at the FCC in the new Administration – and there may be many!  

Good News from Vermont!
Congratulations to the Vermont Access Network and our members in Vermont who scored a major victory at the Public Service Board.

The Board renewed Comcast’s Certificate of Public Good for the next 11 years, but found that Comcast had an obligation to help bring PEG access services into the digital age and that “community needs and interests related to PEG access” should be served as the company introduces and expands new technologies in the state.

Significantly the Board required the company to provide Interactive Program Guide access to access organizations within one year at Comcast’s expense.   The Board agreed with VAN that the program guide is desired by the public and is fundamental to the value and success of PEG in Vermont.  

The Board also agreed that Comcast had not complied with provisions to assist with live local origination, and opened the question of requiring High Definition channels for PEG in a separate proceeding in two years.

Lauren Glenn Davitian has provided a summary of the ruling available online.

It’s not clear if Comcast will appeal the ruling in court, but the ACM will continue to work with the Vermont stations to help them better serve their communities.

Do you have ideas for ACM 2017 Conference?
If you have suggestions for speakers, workshops or presentations you’d like to see at the ACM Conference and Trade Show in Minneapolis MN in July, I would love to hear them!

Please give me suggestions by February 1.  And don’t be shy: If you want to present an idea or demonstrate a successful part of your work, we want to share it with others!

Send your suggestions by email to me at mwassenaar@allcommunitymedia.org and I will share them with our conference committees.
See you in Minneapolis!

Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO

The FCC Seeks Comments on ACM’s Petition

Posted: January 16, 2017

The FCC Seeks Comments on ACM’s Petition
The Federal Communications Commission is inviting comments on ACM’s Petition to waive captioning registration and certification requirements for PEG producers.

The initial comments are due February 9th and reply comments are due February 24th.

Link to FCC’s Notice

You may remember that we filed the Petition because the FCC’s Second Order on Closed Captioning will requires all video producers on cable systems – including PEG Access producers – to register consumer contact information and say yearly whether they are exempt from the FCC’s captioning rules. We want to make sure that Access producers don’t have to deal with that needless red tape.

If you want to file comments, we’ve prepared some sample language to use and modify. Contact me at mwassenaar@allcommunitymedia.org if you’d like to use it.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
I hope you take some time to consider the continuing legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on this national day of recognition and how it fits into our lives and work every day beyond this one.

The voices and needs of everyone; the famous and the oppressed, the big and the small, the winners and the losers, are to be recognized if our society is truly devoted to equality for all. 

That’s a principle we should strive to achieve in our work every day, and is just as important in 2017 as it was during Dr. King’s life.

So commemorate this day, and remember it every day.

Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO

115th Congress Meets in Washington

Posted: January 9, 2017
The 115th Congress is underway. There are new appointments in the Senate and House on the committees that work on issues that affect community television. Here’s a quick look:

In the Senate Commerce Committee there are eight new members. In the Republican majority there is Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma), Mike Lee (Utah), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) and Todd Young (Indiana). In the Democratic minority there is Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin), Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire), Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) and Catherine Cortez Mastro (Nevada).      

In the House Energy and Commerce Committee there are four new Republican members: Buddy Carter (Georgia), Ryan Costello (Pennsylvania), Tim Walberg (Michigan) and Mimi Walters (California). Democrats have not yet named new appointments to the Committee. Importantly for this committee, it is now chaired by Greg Walden (Oregon) and the Telecommunications subcommittee chair is now Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee).

During this Congress term it’s important for ACM members to be informed and active by contacting their Representatives and Senators; making sure PEG community television is not endangered by upcoming telecommunications reform.

Because of the importance of your involvement, ACM is increasing our Public Policy briefings to ensure you can participate. You can attend our one-hour phone briefings the First Thursday and Last Tuesday of each month at 4pm ET (1pm PT). Please let me know if you want the call-in coordinates and I will send you invites.

Previous News Items: