Waxman Says Commerce Will Look Into Access to PEG Channels
Accessibliity considered crucial for disabled Americans
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/21/2010 6:20:32 PM
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry
Waxman (D-Calif.) called access to PEG channels an
important issue and one the committee would look into.
That came in a markup Wednesday on the 21st Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act (HR 3101),
which passed out of committee Wednesday on a voice vote.
The assurance was made to Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.),
who agreed to withdraw an amendment to the bill on
PEG channels that could have slowed its progress.
Baldwin outlined the amendment before withdrawing it
(which is away for her to make the point without holding
up the larger bill).
She had asked for assurances that the committee would take
up PEG issues "in the near future." Those issues included
the move of PEG channels from analog to digital tiers,
the clustering on digital channels on subchannels to a single,
menu-driven channel, and other moves by cable operators
that she argues can make them harder to access, including
for the disabled.
She said PEG channels "serve as a lifeline to Americans with
disabilities," helping them stay connected by monitoring
and engaging in local government and distant learning classes,
or even go to church.
"While we strive for digital inclusion," she said, "we must
protect and enhance the existing access to news and civic life
available to PEG channels. Her amendment would have made
sure that PEG providers would have to meet the same
standards for accessibility as broadcasters.
It would also require that subscribers be able to "rely on
their PEG channels for emergency alerts" Baldwin did not spell
out exactly where that was going with that part of the
amendment, but did say that her concern was that when PEG
channels are moved from an analog to a digital tier, "they
are completely inaccessible to analog cable customers,"
which she said placed "an unnecessary burden on low-income
and fixed-income individuals and families and people with
The amendment is based on her Community Access
PreservationAct (HR 3745), which she introduced last October
and requires that PEG channels be just as accessible as
broadcast must-carry stations carried on a cable system.
That essentially means that to move PEG channels to digital,
an operator would have to move broadcast channels to that
tieras well. And if there are no must-carry stations, PEG
channels would have to be available to every sub at no
"You have raised a very important issue that we need to look
more carefully," said Waxman, who added that he would talk
with her and committee leaders about "what we can do in