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


  • installation of transport facilities to transport PEG programming to a headend (no limit set on the number of these allowed per community)


  • build-out provisions

  • 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.

In an era of media globalization and consolidation, PEG access stations continue to give viewers critical information about their communities and offer and important platform for local voices. They catalyze civic engagement and they provide invaluable education services. As the Commission proceeds on this issue, we urge you to consider the potential impact on PEG stations.
— October 29, 2018 Letter from Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and nine others to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai