Hundreds Weigh In on Industry Treatment of Public Channels
Over 770 comments have been filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to Petitions for Declaratory Ruling against AT&T's U-Verse PEG product and channel slamming of PEG on Comcast's Michigan system.
The Illinois Attorney General filed comments on behalf of The People of the State of Illinois in support of the Petitions regarding AT&T's PEG product. The AG's preliminary investigation into the matter has found that, "the U-Verse video system does not provide PEG programming in a manner that is equivalent to commercial programming."
Cities and PEG centers from throughout Illinois also filed in support of the Petitions. Jeffrey T. Sherwin, Executive Board Chairman of Metropolitan Mayors Caucus commented, "If channels are made less accessible, and are deprived of basic functions viewers have come to expect, many residents will not receive valuable public health and safety information."
Illinois nonprofits recognize the importance of PEG channels for groups that don't have access through other media. "With ongoing media consolidation and budget cuts in the print and broadcast media, the need for unbridled access to community television has grown," said James Thindwa, Executive Director of Chicago Jobs with Justice in his comments.
"Rather then the industry displacing this content and making it less accessible to viewers, comments Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7), "we need to expand these services and to make sure that a place for the community is reserved and safeguarded on television."
The national news show, Democracy Now! examined AT&T's treatment of PEG channels on its March 9th national newscast.
Windy City Times also covered the issue.
A list of comments that have already been filed is available here. Type the Proceeding Number in the first box (09-13), and click the "Retrieve Document List."
Comments from some Illinois communities filing in support of PEG:
"PEG channels are a critical and irreplaceable resource for our community. If the Commission fails to prevent the industry practices at issue in these petitions, we have little doubt that other operators might also adopt approaches that marginalize or effectively eliminate PEG access."
-City of Aurora
"If Lombard's channels are made less accessible than viewers have come to expect, many subscribers we now reach will not receive valuable information. It is unacceptable that local residents would be deprived of easy access to government information, education of our children and emergency alerts."
-Village of Lombard
"We have an award winning group of channels of which we are very proud. That programming is of unique local interest and needs to be readily accessible to viewers, not placed in a format, which is inferior or less accessible than other channels."
-Champaign-Urbana Cable Television and Telecommunications Commission