U.S. House Subcommittee Examines Harm to PEG

The US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government has called a hearing to explore whether public, educational and government ("PEG") programming is in danger of declining or disappearing in our communities as a result of cable television's current regulatory and business environment.

Barbara Popovic, Executive Director of Chicago Access Network Television ("CAN TV") will testify at the hearing. Popovic says, "Congress needs to recognize that a rapid erosion of public benefits is underway. In Illinois, AT&T is segregating PEG channels on its U-Verse system, making those channels difficult to find and use. That defies congressional goals to preserve localism and diversity in cable franchising, and ignores Illinois law requiring equivalent treatment of public channels."

Harm to PEG nationwide was evidenced in a recent survey by Alliance for Community Media, which reported loss of funding and channels, reduced quality and functionality of existing channels, and loss or reductions in public cable drops to schools, libraries and other public centers.

Ms. Popovic has been invited to testify at the upcoming hearing on behalf of Alliance for Community Media and Alliance for Communications Democracy. Also representing PEG will be Bronxnet's Michael Max Knobbe from Rep. Serrano's home district. The government's witness will be FCC Media Bureau Chief, Monica Desai. Howard Simons will testify on behalf of National Cable Television Association. AT&T has refused the subcommittee's invitation to send a witness.

PEG programming is essential as an outlet for free speech, local information and opinions, and emergency communications. This hearing will help policy makers gain knowledge of what is necessary to protect this important resource in the future.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 10:00 AM in 2220 Rayburn Building in Washington, DC.