PROTECTING COMMUNITY TELEVISION ACT
(HR 6219/S 3361):
WHY THIS LEGISLATION IS NEEDED
The FCC’s 2019 Franchise Fee Order redefines the federal Cable Act’s 5% franchise fee to include the value of most non-monetary franchise obligations as franchise fees. This change allows cable companies to reduce what they pay for the use of public property and rights-of-way. The Protecting Community Television Act (HR 6219/S 3361) corrects this error by clarifying franchise fees are only monetary.
The Cable Act protects the rights of a local community to charge cable companies a five (5%) percent franchise fee and to meet community needs and interests, such as providing public, educational and governmental channel capacity. Contrary to industry practices that date to the 1980s, the FCC’s actions could result in reducing cable operators’ monetary compensation to towns and municipalities that wish to communicate with residents through community television. The FCC Order could force communities to choose between franchise fees or communicating with residents through community media that provide Americans with local civic, public safety and public health content.
The Protecting Community Television Act ((HR 6219/S 3361) clarifies that only monetary payments, not non-monetary franchise obligations, qualify as Cable Act franchise fees and are subject to a fee cap. Without it, a cable operator could create fees to drain away municipal revenues and pressure municipalities to give up or de-staff channels.
The bill is authored by Senators Ed Markey (MA) and Tammy Baldwin (WI). Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA) and Pete DeFazio (OR) are the House authors. As of March 21, the bill has 15 co-sponsors in the Senate and 33 co-sponsors in the House/
For further information, contact
Mike Wassenaar, Alliance for Community Media (email@example.com)
Asad Ramzanali, Office of Rep. Anna Eshoo (Asad.Ramzanali@mail.house.gov)
Bennett Butler, Office of Sen. Edward Markey (Bennett_Butler@markey.senate.gov)
Here are the House co-sponsors of the Protect Community Television Act.
Here are the Senate co-sponsors of the Protect Community Television Act.