In a filing in the Charter acquisition of Time Warner and Advanced/Newhouse (Bright House), American Community Television (ACT) called on the FCC to create an appeals process so that PEG access channels and local communities could bring their complaints to the FCC and get an official opinion.
“Charter is the worst cable operator in terms of its public interest obligations to PEG access television and local communities,” said Bunnie Riedel, executive director. “We have documented instances in which they blatantly breach existing cable franchise agreements and then tell PEG and communities to go pound sand.”
The filing asks that conditions be placed on the Charter merger to ensure that PEG stations and local communities are treated fairly. It cites Charter removing cable drops from police and fire departments, forcing local school districts to rent cable boxes at tens of thousands of dollars per year and clear breaches of legal and binding contracts.
“What we see is Charter steps all over PEG channels and local communities because they know they can’t afford the litigation it will take to make them comply,” said Riedel. “What we want is a formal review process conducted by the FCC, a process which is already paid for by the FCC’s collection of cable regulatory fees to the tune of $60 plus million per year from subscribers.”
That cable regulatory fee is $.96 per cable subscriber that is intended for cable regulation. However, it is difficult to point to any cable regulation by the FCC in over a decade.
“The subscribers have already paid into that fund, we think it’s time the FCC use the money they are collecting to protect local communities and PEG,” said Riedel. “Of all the cable operators, Charter is the most hostile to PEG and local communities and now they will become the second largest operator in the country. Our PEG channels and communities need protection from this “Giant Ogre.”
American Community Television educates and advocates on behalf of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television. ACT was joined in the filing by the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SEATOA). To contact Bunnie Riedel, executive director or John Rocco, president, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-992-4976.