Protecting the public’s channels

KUC News

Illinois Attorney General Investigates AT&T

December 22, 2008

Representatives of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus learned this past week that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has launched an investigation of AT&T's U-Verse PEG product to determine whether its treatment of public, educational and government (PEG) access channels complies with Illinois' Cable and Video Competition Law of 2007.
 
Illinois law requires that PEG channels be delivered at equivalent signal quality and functionality to commercial channels. But AT&T, a multi-billion dollar telecommunications company and Illinois' first video provider franchised under state law, claims it isn't possible with its U-Verse system to provide equal treatment for PEG channels used by the public.
 
An independent engineering study released by Illinois NATOA shows the technology is readily available to allow delivery of PEG channels on AT&T's U-Verse platform without the deficiencies of AT&T's current system.
 
AT&T's U-Verse system removes local PEG channels from the standard lineup, dumping dozens of channels into a generic "Channel 99" - stripping away individual channel identities and depriving those channels of basic functions viewers have come to expect.
 
AT&T subscribers can no longer tune to the familiar cable channel for the village board meeting or homework help program. Viewers can't switch between commercial and PEG channels, set a DVR to record a PEG program, receive closed captioning, or depend on getting timely local emergency alerts.
 
"We were pleased to learn that the Attorney General has initiated an investigation regarding AT&T's implementation of the Cable and Video Competition Law," says David Bennett, Executive Director of Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. "We have offered to assist her office in whatever way they deem appropriate."
 
The investigation is being conducted by the Attorney General's Public Utilities Bureau with assistance from the Special Litigation Bureau.