PEG Channels, Broadcasters Join Forces

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WASHINGTON — American Community Television, which has been battling cable operators over public, education and government (PEG) channel placement, has joined broadcast-TV stations in battling cable over retransmission-consent reforms.

It’s part of an escalating skirmish that could come to a head with satellite-television reauthorization legislation that could include or exclude reforms to retransmission-consent rules.

Broadcasters are fighting cable-industry efforts to include a prohibition on basictier status for retransmitted stations in that must-pass legislation.

ACT last week said it had joined the coalition, made up of network-affiliate associations, the National Association of Broadcasters and others pushing back against calls for retransmission reforms. “Local broadcast-TV stations and PEG channels often work together to deliver vital public service, educational and religious programming to viewers in their communities that cannot be replicated by pay TV or broadband service providers,” ACT executive director Bunnie Reidel said.

ACT is pushing a bill that would preserve PEG access on cable basic tiers and expand use of PEG funding for ongoing operations. TVfreedom has said it supports that legislation.

The American Television Alliance, representing cable and satellite operators pushing for retrans changes, dismissed the new get-together.

“Broadcasters are dishing out more red herrings than a fish monger,” ATA spokesman Brian Frederick said. “PEG … stations would not be impacted by eliminating the basic-tier mandate, nor would any station that elects mustcarry. Only for-profit broadcasters who are making billions of dollars on retransmission consent would be affected. The key question is whether consumers should be forced by the government to pay for network affiliates.”

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