FCC

Aloha,

The FCC is proposing new rules to allow cable companies to offset a range of franchise obligations that may be considered “in-kind” contributions from their existing franchise fee payments.  These “in-kind” contributions include basic responsibilities such as PEG channel capacity, programming transmission, connectivity to schools and public buildings, and the list goes on.  If the FCC adopts these rules, franchising authorities will see huge reductions in franchise fee payments from cable operators.  These fees enable Hawai‘i’s PEG providers to operate our community access channels, deliver training, and support our media centers, services and special initiatives like our Youth Xchange and Vote Informed programs.  Hawai‘i’s PEG providers and Community Access Centers across the nation will be gravely impacted.  In many cases, this action can eliminate entire operating budgets for PEG access centers.

Let’s protect and preserve COMMUNITY MEDIA, and STRENGTHEN OUR VOICES, NOT DIMINISH THEM! If you’ve had any experiences where community access has touched your life, or if you champion free speech, and have concerns about diminishing or eliminating public benefits provided under the Federal Communications Act and cable franchise agreements in Hawai‘i, we strongly urge you to share your story about the impacts these proposed rules could make to you and your community.  Comments can be filed with the FCC on or before midnight (Eastern) on November 14, 2018 and reply comments before midnight (Eastern) on December 14, 2018.

Be sure to file it on the FCC’s website here by December 14 at the latest.  The Docket number is 05-311.  Tips to help assist you on how to file can be found here.

WHY THIS MATTERS

  • Reduction of Cable Franchise Fees and PEG Impacts
    All “cable-related, in-kind contributions,” other than PEG capital costs and build out requirements, would be treated as “franchise fees.”  Cable operators will be able to reduce their current franchise fee payment by “fair market value” of all in-kind contributions.   What could be considered in-kind?

• PEG channel capacity – 4 linear and 2 Video On Demand channels on ‘Ōlelo
• Transmission of PEG programming (connectivity from ‘Ōlelo to cable operator headend)
• Complementary cable services to schools and other public buildings
• Institutional networks (dedicated point to point government communications network)
• Discounts for senior citizens or economically disadvantaged groups

  • Accommodations for hearing impaired subscribers
  • Critical to the exercise of free speech is the platform ‘Ōlelo provides through noncommercial programming aired on PEG access channels and produced by, for and about the community. Key to promoting civic engagement, PEG access is a benefit to cable subscribers and cable operators, providing unique, hyper local programs not available on competing systems such as broadcast, satellite and wireless video providers.  This benefit can quickly diminish or be forever lost.
  • What are the effects of the proposed rules? The shrinking of franchise fees means the shrinking of PEG access services and resources to the community.  The FCC’s proposed rules would  rewrite cable franchise agreements to reduce or even eliminate franchise fee payments without any corresponding increase of services by the cable operator.  Moreover, local franchising authorities may have to reduce or eliminate so called “in-kind contributions” such as PEG channel capacity to maintain franchise fee payments, which could very well  mean fewer PEG channels or no channels, faultier transmission, eliminating connectivity to schools, eliminating current PEG services, etc.
  • These rules would be applied to state-level franchising actions, not just local franchising. In other words, state video franchising laws as we have here in Hawai‘i may be impacted; don’t assume state franchising laws will protect franchise fees or PEG channels
  • If you, your family, organization, agency or business has benefited from a community access program or service, it may not exist once these rules are applied. PEG access may not exist once these rules are applied.

For more information or help with submitting your comments to the FCC, please call (808) 237-2124 or email ‘Ōlelo’s Community Relations department.

RESOURCES

Docket 05-311 Filings Official Comments 

FCC Fact sheet

NATOA Summary of FCC’s 2nd FNRM on Cable Franchise Fees

 

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Congressional Delegates Contact Information

US House

Rep Colleen Hanabusa (term ends 12/31/18)
422 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Ph:  (202) 225-2726
Fax:  (202) 225-0688
Web: hanabusa.house.gov

Rep. elect Ed Case (term begins 1/01/19)
422 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Ph: (202) 225-2726
Fax:  (202) 225-0688
Email: edcase@edcase.com

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-2nd)
502 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Ph: (202) 225-4906
Fax: (202) 225-4987
Email: TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov

 

US Senate

Senato Mazie K Hirono
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Ph: (202) 224-6361
Fax: (202) 224-2126
Web: www.hirono.senate.gov/contact

Senator Brian Schatz
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
ph: :(202) 224-3934
Fax: (202) 224-3934
Web: www.schatz.senate.gov/contact