August 1, 2019 - FCC Votes 3 - 2 along party lines to approve the Third Report and Order
Supporting the Order:
Opposing the Order:
FCC votes 3 - 2 to approve Third Report and Order
At its August 1, 2019 meeting, the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines 3 - 2 to approve the Third Report and Order, claiming it will help expand broadband infrastructure, though no such requirement was placed on telecom companies using the right-of-way.
The final version of the Report and Order (see sidebar for the R & O and other related documents) will have some negative effect in Wisconsin since the Report & Order considers “PEG Transport” and maintenance of transport lines to be PEG operating expenses that can be deducted from video service provider fees. The FCC affirmed, however, that video service providers may be required to fund PEG capital expenses and these expenses cannot be deducted from video service provider fees. Currently, Wisconsin does not take much advantage of its ability to charge video service providers for capital expenses related to PEG.
The Third Report & Order exempts the following from the 5% franchise fee and in-kind services cap:
PEG capital expenses
PEG TRANSPORT FACILITIES (BUT NOT MAINTENANCE or operating costs)
installation of transport facilities to transport PEG programming to a headend (no limit set on the number of these allowed per community)
PEG channel CAPACITY AND RELATED COSTS (FOR NOW…)
customer service standards
In its Third Report and Order, the FCC chose not to make a decision on whether PEG access channels (Section 44) have an “operating cost” component that could be charged against the franchise fee cap. The FCC indicated that this might be revisited within a year.
WCM believes it is important to push for changes in state legislation, so that we take advantage of what we CAN do, while lessening the effect of charges that we may start getting in the future from video service providers.