THE FEDERAL ASSAULT ON LOCAL MEDIA AND MUNICIPALITIES
Please help us stop the Federal Communications Commission from gutting funding for Somerville Media Center. Make your voice heard in support of community media around the country. The deadline for initial comments was on November 14 and the Reply Comments are due on December 14. This is an opportunity to target initial comments with a rebuttal. Read on for the specific actions we’re asking you to take, but first here is some background to help you understand the issue. Here is a related article on the topic produced by WGBH and another written by DigBoston!
BACKGROUND: Cable Franchise Fees and the Cable Communications Act of 1984
The FCC’s “Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM) on Cable Franchising” was published in the Federal Register on October 15. This proposed Rule seeks to redefine and place a value on cable franchise obligations that have been traditionally defined as “In-Kind” (backhaul of signal, IPG, possibly our PEG channels themselves). The result would be to charge these “expenses” back against the franchise fee and essentially undermine the intent of the Cable Communications Act of 1984. The Cable Communications Act of 1984 is important legislation that created the framework and funding which today sustains Somerville Media Center and a vital nationwide network of hundreds of community TV channels in cities, towns, counties, and villages from Belfast, Maine to Berkeley, California. The national impact on PEG Access and local municipalities could be devastating.
As giant commercial media companies get even larger, Somerville Media Center remains a small, non-commercial & hyper-local media hub, where local governments can connect to constituents; where teachers and students leverage leading-edge educational technology; and where local residents can help produce and watch real news about real people and stay informed about real issues that affect Somerville.
COMMUNITY IMPACT ON SOMERVILLE & SMC
If those payments go away, so will youth media programs, media production trainings, special digital literacy classes, media services for nonprofit, city committee meeting coverage, coverage of local issues and events, community forums and non-partisan election debates, live and archived transparent city meetings, school committee and alderman meetings, community-accessible and emerging media equipment, studios and resources, and the production of thousands of hours of unique local programming.
Please hurry, the deadline for comments is December 14. It will just take a few moments of your time to register your opposition to this plan.
1. Write a brief letter, on letterhead if you are representing an organization, starting with this opening:
The Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman
The Honorable Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner
The Honorable Brendan Carr, Commissioner
The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner
Federal Communications Commission
455 12th Street, Southwest
Washington, DC, 20544
Dear Chairman Pai,
I write to support the Comments of the Cable Act Preservation Alliance (“CAPA”) and to disapprove of the proposals and tentative conclusions set forth in the FCC’s September 25 Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making in Implementation of Section 621(a)(1) of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 as Amended by the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, MB Docket 05- 311.
Then add your comments about why you think continued support of community media is important – describe how you use Somerville Media Center and how important it is in Somerville. End with a closing requesting their continued support of community media, and sign your letter.
2. Now you need to upload it to the FCC website:
- go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings
- In “Proceedings” enter “05-311”
- In “Name of Filer” enter your name or your organization’s name
- In “Type of Filing” select “Reply Comments”
- In “Address” enter your Address
- Enter your City State and Zip Code
- Attach your letter
- Check “Email Confirmation”
- Enter “Continue to Review Screen”
- Enter “Submit”
You should receive an email confirmation.
That’s it! If you can, please send a copy of your letter to Somerville Media Center.