Independent Video Producers on San Antonio Public Access TV

Saturday, December 5, 2009

PEG Channels’ New Best Friend

by Bunnie Riedel, Riedel Communications -- Multichannel News, December 5, 2009

We’ve all had that experience where someone suddenly becomes your “best pal” because they want something from you or can use your friendship in some way. For most of us, that kind of sidling up is excruciatingly transparent and usually disgusting.

In a publicized memo (see “Letter to FCC Outlines Deal Commitments,”, Dec. 3), Comcast highlighted its commitment to localism, the public interest and PEG channels.

“Comcast also has demonstrated its commitment to local programming, including sports and public affairs, and in providing support for public, educational, and government (PEG) access programming. We want to use the combined resources of NBC and Comcast to strengthen localism.”

“With respect to PEG channels, we will not migrate PEG channels to digital delivery on any Comcast cable system until the system has converted to all digital distribution (i.e., until all analog channels have been eliminated), or until a community otherwise agrees to digital PEG channels, whichever comes first.

“To enhance localism and strengthen educational and governmental access programming, we will also develop a platform to host PEG content On Demand and On Demand Online within three years of closing.”

Over the years that I have worked with the PEG community I can attest to the fact that Comcast has been less than stellar when it comes to PEG access television. Take Philadelphia, for instance, corporate headquarters of Comcast. Public access advocates fought for 25 years to get what was in the franchise agreement, a public-access channel and funding. Comcast was at City Hall every step of the way blocking the effort. I was told by one council office that Comcast had shown the council videos of the Klu Klux Klan and of some naked woman in New York that solicits on the air. Apparently Comcast had told council that’s what they’d get if they had public-access television. By the way, the naked lady wasn’t on public access, she was buying time on Local Origination.

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