By Christopher Roberson
Lynnfield Media Studios is anxiously awaiting a decision from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding new regulations that, if passed, would greatly reduce the funding for local public access channels nationwide.
By the middle of the month, the FCC is expected to vote on the Declaratory Ruling and Third Report as well as the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Camille Bartlett, executive director of Peabody Access Telecommunications, said the Declaratory Ruling and Third Report would “impose caps on permits fees, right of way use fees, municipal attachment fees [and] set arbitrary ‘shot clocks’ for approving small wireless deployments and restrict local control over the aesthetics of these deployments.”
She said the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would “allow cable operators to deduct from their franchise fee payments almost any cable-related franchise requirement, including PEG (public, educational and government) channel capacity and limit local authority over cable operators’ non-cable services.”
Eric Hamlin, executive director of Lynnfield Media Studios, said that over the years, the town’s television station has “allowed many people the opportunity to get more involved in local government while continuing to provide the transparency and accountability that the local officials have strived to provide to the town of Lynnfield.”
“If the FCC’s proposal is adopted and funding is drastically reduced, it has the potential to have an impact on our day-to-day operations,” he said. “The whole reason that these access stations were started was to make sure that its citizens have a platform for freedom of speech.”
Hamlin also said that no one has remained silent about the adverse effects that the regulations could have on PEG channels. “I know that there has been a large outcry from local stations pleading with the FCC against its proposal,” he said. “Let’s just hope that these statements are taken seriously as the ramifications are huge.”
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey has also spoken out against the FCC. “Our constituents watch PEG channels to monitor local government proceedings, hear the latest news from nearby college campuses, and consume other locally produced programming including emergency alerts and directives. We fear this proposal will result in a dire drop in resources for PEG channels throughout the nation,” he said in his Oct. 29 letter to Pai, which was signed by 10 other U.S. senators, including Elizabeth Warren.