PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE | FEBRUARY 22, 2021
Vermont & PEG Operations
Some interesting news from Vermont came out a week ago as the State government issued a report looking at the long-term financial health of PEG operations there. Vermont has a system of cable franchising that set up “access management organizations” that negotiate for support from cable companies after the cable operator receives a certificate of public good from the State’s utility commission.
Like many other PEG operations across the country, the Vermont stations are looking at alternative revenue streams as cable franchise dollars decline. The report was commissioned by the State to try to find answers and was authored by independent consultants Berkshire Telecommunications Consulting. You can view the report here.
There aren’t simple answers in the report – except to point out that efficiencies through mergers or closer collaboration of the centers in the Vermont won’t solve the revenue problem, and that Vermonters approve of and use the channels regularly for vital civic information. The report proposes a plan to create a Public Telecommunications Benefit Fund that would support PEG operations and other public telecom services and be funded by a pole attachment charge at the state level.
It will be interesting to see the next steps in Vermont – and what other states will take from the process. Watch this space.
City of Eugene, OR vs FCC
Oral argument in the City of Eugene, OR vs FCC – the lawsuit challenging the FCC’s interpretation of the Cable Act in it’s so-called “In-Kind” cable franchising order from 2019 – has been scheduled in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on April 15. Attorneys for municipal interests in the dispute (and ACM) will now begin preparations for the arguments. We’ll give you updates after the proceeding.
Senate Commerce Committee
Late last week, the Senate Commerce Committee announced new leadership for its renamed Subcommittee on Communications, Media and Broadband – freshman Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico will chair the group. Reports were that Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts passed on the role to take a leadership position on environment and energy issues as part of his promotion of the Green New Deal.
ACM Virtual Meetups
We can expect Senator Lujan to be a strong backer of rural broadband initiatives and efforts to support media diversity. ACM looks forward to working with his office in the new Congress.
New PEG Meetups are being scheduled this week and next (Minnesota and Illinois on Wednesday 2/24 and New York and Washington on Wednesday, March 3).
If you want coordinates for the Meetup in your state, ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website for the current schedule. And let us know if you want a Meetup scheduled in your state this coming month!
Hometown Media Awards Deadline
And we’re two weeks away from the deadline for entries for the Hometown Awards. There have been some incredible stories of service this past year across the country, and I’d like you to consider entering your station in the overall excellence categories for Public, Educational and Government channels.