March 29, 2011
American Community Television Calls for PEG Commitments in the AT&T/T-Mobile Merger
Citing shoddy treatment of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access channels on AT&T’s U-verse product, American Community Television (ACT) called for PEG commitments as part of the merger.
“We just saw the willingness of Comcast to make commitments to PEG access television in their merger with NBC Universal,” said John Rocco, President of ACT. “Now is the time for AT&T to fix the problems we have with our channels on the U-verse platform.”
For years, PEG access television operators have complained about the treatment of PEG channels on the U-verse system. AT&T groups all PEG channels in a region onto a single channel (channel 99) and does not deliver the channels as separate channels the way other cable operators do.
“Our channels have been discriminated against by AT&T,” said Rocco. “You have to go through several steps to even get to our channels and you can’t just flip back and forth between channels because you then have to back out of the channel 99 set-up.”
A demonstration of how AT&T treats PEG channels can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMZXpOVkm9k.
“In addition to it being cumbersome to even find our channels, the quality of transmission is terrible and they are not accessible to the vision and hearing impaired,” said Rocco. “And, in many communities, AT&T charges local government for the transmission of the channels.”
ACT believes it is illegal for AT&T to charge communities for the cost of transmission when federal, state and local laws often require channels as part of a cable franchise agreement.
“We are going to call on AT&T to fix the channel 99 problem, the quality and accessibility issues and the fee for transmission issue,” said Rocco. “These telecommunications corporations have an obligation to the public interest because they use our public rights-of-way and our public spectrum.”