Let’s Try This Again: ‘Protecting Community Television Act’ Reintroduced

Updated: Jan 22, 2024

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On Feb. 9, the Protecting Community Television Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in an effort to preserve PEG programming. In the Senate, the bill was reintroduced by Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who introduced it in 2020 and reintroduced it in 2021. The House authors are Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA) and Pete DeFazio (D-OR).

“At a time when news and media have become more consolidated than ever before,” Markey said, “we must work to upload local access to public, education, and government channels for every household in our country.”

Countless households across Wisconsin rely on community television to provide them with their local news and to lift up the voices of local businesses, organizations, and people,” noted Baldwin. I am proud to once again support the Protecting Community Television Act to ensure folks across the country can continue to access the news sources they know and trust.”

The bill seeks to modify the Communications Act of 1934 and redefine the term “franchise fee.” In 2019, the FCC determined that in-kind contributions, which can be required by local franchising authorities (LFA) to support a variety of local needs, could be subtracted from franchise fees. If in-kind contributions are subject to the franchise fee 5% cap of the cable operator’s gross revenues, it could significantly reduce franchise fees (and PEG resources). Basically, with two simple modifications, the bill would separate franchise fees from in-kind contributions.

The Protecting Community Television Act already has co-sponsors in the House and Senate, and has been endorsed by several organizations, including the Alliance for Community Media, National Association of Counties, and National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA).

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