American Community Television has called for PEG commitments as part of any AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
ACT, which advocates for protections and better treatment/placement of public, educational and government channels, pointed to Comcast's "willingness" to make PEG access commitments in securing Federal Communications Commission approval of its deal to join up with NBCU, and wants the AT&T/T-Mobile meld to include PEG provisions on AT&T's U-Verse video service.
Comcast pledged not to move PEG channels to digital until a community was ready or its system went all-digital, and to "safeguard the continued accessibility and signal quality of PEG channels on its cable television systems and introduce new on demand and online platforms for PEG content."
ACT has complained that the channels on U-Verse, which is already digital and so has no migration issues, are hard to find and suffer from bad transmission quality. They also complain that AT&T charges communities for the cost of transmission, pointing to a March 2008 video they said illustrated the problems.
"We are going to call on AT&T to fix the channel 99 problem [PEG channels in a sub-menu of that channel], the quality and accessibility issues and the fee for transmission issue," said ACT president John Rocco. "These telecommunications corporations have an obligation to the public interest because they use our public rights-of-way and our public spectrum."
An AT&T spokesperson pointed to its own, newer, video that it said demonstrated that the channels were clear and not difficult to find, and that improvements in load times had been made. The video points out that PEG channels are on the opening screen.
"We are committed to carrying Public, Educational, and Government programming over AT&T U-verse TV, having deployed the service in hundreds of cities with hundreds of PEG channels," AT&T said in a statement, adding that the video demonstrates that its programming "can be easily and quickly accessible, is high quality and offers many benefits."