American Community Television (ACT) announced today that it will lobby on behalf of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television stations across the country. Citing detrimental state legislation, federal agency rulings and access center closings in various states, the newly formed group is focusing its efforts at the federal level.
“We’ve been in discussion for some time about what is needed,” said ACT President John Rocco. “PEG television is an important part of our democracy, especially in the face of media consolidation and the loss of localism in media. It is critical that these television stations be protected.”
ACT will be meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss the Community Access Preservation Act (HR 3745-CAP Act) introduced by Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in October 2009. Additionally, ACT will be meeting with FCC Commissioners to discuss a pending rulemaking and a recent inquiry on the future of media and the critical role of PEG access in local media.
“For over forty years, PEG access television has been the voice of the local community. There are over 1,500 PEG access centers in this country and, for many communities, these channels are the only source of local information,” said Rocco. “We’re watching an all-out assault on PEG by the cable industry and if we don’t stand up and fight, we will lose these valuable channels.”
PEG access centers have been closed in Indiana, Illinois and California after state franchising laws were passed and funding was reduced or eliminated. Additionally, access channels have been slammed off the basic tier into the digital tier, well ahead of subscriber digital adoption, or not carried as full channels on the system, as is the case with AT&T’s U-verse application. The CAP Act would address many of these issues.
The ACT board consists of leaders in the PEG access and telecommunications industries: John Rocco (President) has twenty-two years experience as an Executive Director of access centers across the country; Lori Panzino-Tillery (Secretary) is the former President of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and currently General Manager for the City of San Bernardino, California, Inland Empire Media Group; Richard Treich (Treasurer) has over three decades experience in the telecommunications and utilities industries, first as Senior Vice-President for AT&T Broadband and TCI Communications and most recently as CEO of Front Range Consulting; Steven Fortriede founded Access Fort Wayne and several other access centers and served on the Alliance for Community Media board for several years; and Stephen Guzzetta is an owner of Bradley & Guzzetta, LLC, a nationally recognized law firm that represents clients on a variety of cable television and telecommunications matters. Leading the lobbying effort will be Bunnie Riedel, Executive Director. Bunnie is currently President of Riedel Communications and former Executive Director of the Alliance for Community Media.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Mr. Rocco, call Bunnie Riedel at 410-992-4976.