Communication companies are in a special position because a democracy depends on people being well-informed so that they can “rule themselves” responsibly. Broadcasters carry syndicated and network programming all day, but they carry local news, too. The Internet may be used heavily by businesses, but it is open to any person who wants to create a website or send an email.  Without PEG channels, cable systems would be entirely closed to the public.

Communication companies are in a special position because a democracy depends on people being well-informed so that they can “rule themselves” responsibly. Broadcasters carry syndicated and network programming all day, but they carry local news, too. The Internet may be used heavily by businesses, but it is open to any person who wants to create a website or send an email.

Without PEG channels, cable systems would be entirely closed to the public.

State Legislative Priorities

Video service providers should be prevented from handling PEG channels in an inferior manner.

·       PEG programming produced in HD should be transmitted in HD like all other channels, not degraded to long out-of-date SD (low resolution Standard Definition).  This is a serious problem as nearly all PEG channels are carried in SD, and nearly all WCM member municipalities produce programming in HD or higher resolutions.

·       PEG channel program schedules should appear in the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) like all other channels. This is where viewers go to find and select a show to watch or record.  Only a handful of PEG channels appear on the EPG statewide.

 The 2007 State Franchise Law shifted the burden for paying for transmission equipment and upstream lines from video service providers to municipalities.  This should be reversed. 

·       Charter/Spectrum’s method of carrying PEG access channels is so out-of-date that transmission equipment is extremely difficult to find, even on secondhand markets.

·       Video Service Providers are sole source vendors and municipalities cannot send out an RFP for the best price or service when they need to move an origination point.  Municipalities must go with the video service provider, who can charge municipalities what they want.

 The 2007 State Franchise Law outlawed “PEG fees” that help pay for equipment.  They should be reinstated as a local option. 

Federal law allows local franchising authorities to assess a PEG fee on cable TV subscribers to pay for PEG related capital equipment and facilities.  WCM suggests that Wisconsin’s state statute enable municipalities to assess a PEG fee equal to 0.5% of video gross revenues up to $50,000 per channel per year.  The fee would assist municipalities in purchasing production and transmission equipment and in complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to PEG access channels.

 The 2007 law eliminated any way to hold video service providers accountable.  This should be corrected. 
A point person should be available to respond quickly to service interruptions and to municipal and school district requests to move channel origination locations within a reasonable time.  Penalties should be associated with noncompliance.

Governor Tony Evers

Governor Tony Evers

Governor allows reduction of Video Service Provider Fees to Stand

but Makes subsidy TO MUNICIPALITIES permanent

July, 2019. Governor Tony Evers partially vetoed a budget provision that reduces video service provider fees by deleting the language that would have limited the taxpayer subsidy to ten years.  As a result, municipalities will not see any loss in revenue, and will likely see more revenue from this source since revenue sharing is based on 2018 and 2019 video service provider income.  However, it also means that this allocation will need to be renewed in every biennial budget and the law could always be changed. 

For a detailed summary of the provision, go here, keeping in mind that the governor has made the subsidy permanent. All other provisions remain the same.

CITIES! Deadline to apply for subsidy is August 15

The amount allocated for revenue sharing in the first year (2020) is limited to $5 million.  Cities need to apply for this money from the Department of Revenue and they need to provide the amount of the video service provider fee they received in 2018 and the amount of 2018 gross revenues that video service providers reported to them BY AUGUST 15, 2019 in order to qualify for revenue sharing from the state.