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FCC Threatens Community Television

November 27, 2018

On September 25, the FCC issued proposed rulemaking (Docket 05-311) that could have a catastrophic impact on BCTV and all Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) cable access channels and community media centers around the country. We are calling on supporters to take a moment to file comments with the FCC expressing your disapproval of their proposed actions. Instructions for filing comments are available on this page.

You can still make a difference by filing an "Ex Parte" letter.

What's at stake?

The new FCC rulemaking allows cable companies to assess the value for 'in kind' services related to providing PEG channels and deduct that amount from the Franchise Fees passed to municipalities and nonprofits like BCTV to run PEG stations and channels. These loosely defined 'in kind' costs can include the 'value' of the cable channels themselves as well as any other services provided. The FCC fails to set any guidelines or limitations to the values that cable companies can assess, and it's conceivable that station operating funds could be eliminated.

You can help!

Here's how to submit a letter that supports BCTV's filed comments in opposition to the proposed Rulemaking.

1. Download and customize the letter template (BCTV_ExParteTemplate_LettertoFCC) and put it on your
letterhead if possible. Areas to customize are marked in Red. Make sure that you include your address. Save your letter as a
PDF file.
[Note: If you want us to file it for you, email it in any format to]
To file the letter yourself:
2. Go to and enter the following information:
  • Proceeding(s) 05-311 (hit ‘enter’ after to proceed)
  • Name(s) of Filer(s): Your Name or Organization (hit ‘enter’ after to proceed)
  • Law Firm(s):   leave blank
  • Attorney/Author Names:   leave blank
  • Primary Contact Email: Your Email Address
  • Type of Filing: choose “Letter”
  • File Number:   leave blank
  • Report Number:  leave blank
  • Bureau ID Number:  leave blank
  • Address of: choose “Filer” from menu
  • Address: Your Address
  • Address 2 - City - State – Zip
3. In the “Upload Documents” area, click to select your PDF file from your computer or drag and
drop the file into the box.
4. When the “Description” box appear, enter “Ex Parte Letter in support of the Comments of the
Cable Act Preservation Alliance (“CAPA,” File ID 1114050901562) and the Reply Comments of
the Vermont Access Network, Inc. (“VAN,” File ID 112798463855) and the Reply Comments of Brattleboro Community Television, Inc. (File ID 1113560010350).
5. Check “Email Confirmation.”
6. Click on “Continue to Review Screen.”
7.Click on “Submit.”
8. You should receive an email confirmation. Please forward this confirmation to

Thank you for supporting Commmunity Media in Vermont and across the nation!


Read the FCC Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second FNPRM),

Read Comments already filed for RM 05-311


Local public-access channels fear FCC proposal that threatens their future - Star Tribune (Twin Cities MN)

Cable access stations are facing a financial reckoning - The Boston Globe

A federal proposal to limit cable-TV fees has public-access channels scrambling for survival (Colorado Sun)

Our opinion: Loss of BCTV Would Affect More Than Just Viewers (Brattleboro Reformer)

Will the FCC pull the plug on public-access TV? (The Commons)

FCC Proposal Could Hurt BCTV's Bottom Line (Brattleboro Reformer)

BCTV: FCC Action Threatens Future (Vermont Business Journal)

FCC rule change could threaten PEG-TV funding (Rutland Herald)

FCC Threatens Governmental and Public Channels (Media Alliance)

A Proposed FCC Rule Change Could Put An End To Local Access TV Stations (WGBH)

FCC is at it again: Proposed changes to benefit big cable, harm local access channels

FCC Rule Change Could Limit Funding for Public Access Programs (NEPR)


In the Cable Act legislation of 1984, Congress established Franchise Fees and PEG Fees as a condition for cable operators providing commercial cable TV services. Franchise fees are often described as 'rent' for the commercial access and use to the public right of ways within a municipality. These fees help cover the associated costs to cities from cable TV installations and also help fund other municipal public services. PEG fees can optionally be established by a municipality to provide for the capital equipment necessary to the operations of local PEG channels. Both Franchise and PEG fees are public interest obligations that ensure the commercial media being pumped into residents homes is balanced by meaningful non-commercial locally originated content. Non-commercial PEG channels are unique, they provide an important means of free speech via the public channel, government transparency and communication with residents via the government channel and an educational channel available for use by local schools and universities. It's important to note that Cable companies do not pay Franchise or PEG fees, these fees are paid by cable subscribers and merely pass through the cable companies to the cities and nonprofits. The new FCC rulemaking will not change the amount currently charged to cable subscribers, it merely allows cable companies to keep this money. The FCC explained that its proposals "are intended to place new entrants and incumbent cable operators on an equal regulatory footing and remove obstacles to the deployment of broadband."

The FCC's press release and supporting documents can be found here: