October 10, 2011
American Community Television (ACT) has sent a letter to Glenn F. Post, III (Chief Executive Officer and President of CenturyLink) asking for clarification of how CenturyLink intends to deliver Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television channels on its system.
“We received word that CenturyLink was considering using a platform akin to AT&T’s U-Verse platform,” said John Rocco, President of ACT. “That is unacceptable to us as it discriminates against the blind or visually impaired.”
AT&T’s U-Verse delivers all PEG channels in a region on a single channel, channel 99. Cable customers must navigate an on-screen menu in order to find their community, then the type of PEG channel they wish to access and then the PEG channel itself. It is a cumbersome process and it is impossible for persons who are blind or visually impaired to access the PEG channels without assistance.
In the letter, Mr. Rocco wrote:
“Those who are blind or vision impaired have as much need to watch a PEG channel as those who are sighted. They too are interested in city and county council meetings, educational programming, nonprofit and arts programming and individually created programming. Indeed, I would say that there is more PEG programming directed at the blind and visually impaired than on any other television venue. In fact, here in Charlotte where I manage the Public access channel, we offer reading services for the blind as audio under our bulletin board system.”
“In addition to my concern as an Executive Director of a Public Access channel, Access 21, I have a personal concern in that I am visually impaired and I would not be able to navigate to my own channel to monitor it,” said Mr. Rocco.
ACT orchestrated a letter writing campaign to Attorneys General in nine states where AT&T delivers U-Verse and has filed a letter of complaint with the US Attorney General’s office as well as the FCC’s Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee in advance of their November 1, 2011 hearing on the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).
“We expect to receive a positive response from CenturyLink. At the same time, we are discouraged that we have received no response from the President of AT&T, Randall Stephenson nor from AT&T’s Advisory Panel on Access & Aging,” said Rocco. “Perhaps they believe if they ignore us the issue will go away, however, it won’t.”
To interview Mr. Rocco, email email@example.com or Bunnie Riedel at Riedel@acommunitytv.org or call 410-992-4976. ACT educates and advocates on behalf of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television. http://acommunitytv.org
Read the letter to CEO Glen F. Post, III from John Rocco