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FCC requests comments on Leased Access channels

websta (920096) writes | about 7 years ago

Television 0

websta writes "The blog at Davis Wright Tremaine — a broadcast law firm in D.C. — published an article on the FCC's request for comments on "leased access" cable channels here: http://www.dwt.com/practc/communications/bulletins /06-07_LeasedAccess-ProgramCarriage.htm

Background: The FCC requires cable companies with more than 100 channels to open 15% of their channels for "leased access" where independent television programmers (e.g., you, your mini-DV camcorder, and a dream) could have your own commercial-supported television station, "to promote competition in the delivery of diverse sources of video programming and to assure that the widest possible diversity of information sources are available to the public from cable system in a manner consistent with growth and development of cable system."

The problem? Cable company non-compliance and exhorbitant lease fees.

The new 2/3 Commissioners at the FCC have issued statements here: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/ FCC-07-18A2.pdf http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/ FCC-07-18A3.pdf

This is a big issue. A quote: "We must meet these statutory directives [to provide viable access for anyone to start their own TV stations), not only because it's our duty, but because these independent programmers provide the diversity of voices that is so central to the proper functioning of our media and, ultimately, to our democracy itself. If our rules aren't giving independent programmers the carriage opportunities to which they're entitled, we'd better fix them — and fast." — Commissioner Copps, http://tinyurl.com/ysewgf .

Request: Here are the questions the FCC Commissioners are looking to answer:

"It would be helpful to the Commission for commenters to submit comments in response to the following questions:
What rates do the cable operators charge for full-time and part-time leased access? What are the average maximum
leased access rates? How do cable operators justify any variances in rates? Are the rates reasonable in light of the
fact that cable operators have larger channel capacity than they did in 1997, and thus perhaps there is less scarcity?
Has the rate formula decreased anticompetitive practices? Has the rate formula increased use of leased access
channels which promote diversity? Do the current rates established by cable operators under the Commission's
regulations deter non-affiliated programmers who otherwise would seek access? Is the method for calculating the
maximum rate appropriate for digital cable, VOD, and IPTV?"

Versions of the leased access rules, with commentary, may be found http://tinyurl.com/22h7th and http://tinyurl.com/2hws9z . There is also a commentary here: http://tinyurl.com/24o633 .

So, write/email your cable company and ask for a quote for your own leased access channel, and send your experiences/comments to the FCC here: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/ . Note that you are responding to "Leased Commercial Access; Development of Competition and Diversity in Video Programming
Distribution and Carriage (MB Docket No. 07-42).""

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