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.

Five Point Legislative Proposal:

It’s Time…

September, 2019
It’s been twelve years since the State of Wisconsin took over the franchising of cable companies from municipalities. It’s time to revisit the statute and make some improvements so that Public, Education, and Government (PEG) access channels can effectively fulfill their mission to create media by, for, and about local communities for local audiences.

1. It’s time for Video Service Providers to modernize their systems and carry PEG HD programming in HD.

PEG programming produced in HD should be transmitted in HD like all other channels, not degraded to long out-of-date SD (low resolution Standard Definition).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. Nearly all PEG channels are carried in SD, but nearly all WCM member municipalities produce programming in HD or higher resolutions.

2. It’s time for Video Service Providers to permit PEG channel program schedules to appear in the Electronic Program Guide.

The guide lists every program service and every schedule carried on the cable television system except PEG programming.  By refusing to add PEG programming to the guide, VSPs make it really difficult for cable subscribers to find out what is on PEG channels.  It also means subscribers cannot record meetings, event coverage, high school football games and more.  “Appointment television” is long gone.  It is high time VSPs allow PEG channels to be viewed on-demand like all other television programs are viewed.

3. It’s time to make community programming available to all cable television subscribers. 

Like local broadcast channels, PEG channels should be available on the most basic tier of cable television service so that all cable TV viewers can interact with their community through local programming.

4. It’s time video service providers acknowledge their status as sole source vendors and provide basic transmission equipment and lines to municipalities.

As sole source vendors, VSPs dictate what equipment PEG media centers must use to get on their systems and set the price for construction services. Municipalities are put in the difficult position of accepting whatever terms VSPs set, without the benefit of considering other proposals in an open market. It just makes sense that VSPs provide the equipment and lines necessary to interact with their systems. The Federal Communications Commission affirmed this last month in its Third Report and Order in MB Docket No. 05-311.

5. It’s time video service providers are held to a standard of service toward PEG channels.
Video service providers should be required to name a point person, who can respond to service issues such as outages and reception problems, and be required to resolve reception problems and construction projects within a reasonable time. Enforcement tools should be available when service standards are not met.

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.

Deadline to apply for THE 2020 subsidy WAs 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.