Q&A Regarding FCC & Senate Bills

The time to take action is upon us! Our stations have been working very hard to bring hyper local content to our communities, at little to no cost to many, and if this is taken away what will it be in exchange for? Our funding is under attack and we need your stories and communities to do the follow:

  1. Attend hands on events for local, states and federal issues and talk about the FCC impact on municipalities and SB 637
  2. Educate your local officials on what you do and share stories that show you do it well! This means reaching out to your neighbor communities as well… they will be effected by this loss of funding even if they are NOT using it for Community Media.
  3. Meet with State & Federal Officials locally or in DC.
  4. Create videos to advocate for FCC opposition and the value of PEG.
  5. With examples of what is well received in your community.
  6. Send comments to legislatures;
  7. Specifically to Debbie Dingell and Gary Peters for the FCC matter
  8. And House Reps. for SB 637

We’re drafting talking points, but you should start a document with personal stories explain how this will impact YOUR COMMUNITY!!!

For example,

Paragraph 1- should be about who you and your station are in the community.

Paragraph 2- Should be about how PEG/your services work in the community, how services are provided at $0-little cost, how this will impact you and your community. Paragraph 3- What are some services and testimonial of how important you are in the community or what you do well.

Note: we’re still waiting for open comments once the document goes live, but you should be talking with people and starting to collect their stories. Q&A information below….

QUESTIONS

Q: Is there any sense of how likely it is that the FCC adopts this rule as outlined in the notice?

A: Highly likely. Need more communities to challenge this and speak up. If this is adopted we lose PEG fees by February and coupled with SB 637 we lose franchise fees in the spring. Of our Michigan NATOA members, I have only heard from 8 communities who are willing to take part in joining a challenge. We have over 30 members so 4 is not a very good representation of our willingness to challenge.

Q: We know that the FCC is proposing making a rule that counts in-kind costs against franchise fees.   Does this mean franchise fees (5% of gross) or does it also include PEG support (anything above 2%)?  Are PEG support payments considered “in-kind” and also count against franchise fees?

A: The new ruling coupled with SB 637 and SB 894 is highly likely to eventually eliminate PEG and Franchise Fees. Cable has already spoken with the FCC and the state about reducing what they owe to match what telecom companies pay. Why should cable pay % gross revenue when telecom pays pennies per foot in METRO fees and DAS in 25 states has been approved to pay $20 per year per pole on colocation and $125 per year on new poles? In addition, cable could eliminate in-kind drops and/or charge us back for those drops.

Q: In this rule-making, is PEG support defined federally (capital only)? What about Michigan’s (480) definition, “PEG facilities AND services”?

A: FCC supersedes Michigan. We will lose PEG funding because it will be charged back to us and could possibly cost us. We could end up paying for the channels if cable says the channels are worth more than the PEG contribution they are giving us.

I note that much of the buzz has been that cable operators will deduct the value of PEG channels from payments.  Value to whom, the community or the operator?  Who determines the value? Industry determines the value. Cable is going to say that their drops to the studio are worth X amount of dollars and possibly charge us back for those. Same goes for anything else (boxes, transmission, fiber, channel, coax, connections, etc. per channel). They could charge us more than we receive.

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