Access media is an unusual business model. We are a non-profit organization, but our funding comes almost entirely from a single source, Comcast. The explanation of why and how that could change requires a quick trip back in time to 1984.

The Cable Act of 1984 was enacted by Congress to ensure that cable companies contributed to the communities where they strung their lines across public lands. This Act was also founded on the belief that local voices deserved a place among the TV channels playing in American living rooms. These contributions to local communities were named “franchise fees” and in Vermont they are overseen by the Public Utilities Commission. We currently receive 5.5% of Comcast’s revenue from the towns we serve. (Comcast lists this amount on subscribers bills as a “PEG Fee.”)

Cable companies have lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to decrease the amount they pay in franchise fees. They would like to deduct the expenses of providing community services from what they give to media centers. This would mean that these franchise fees would go right back to the cable companies, instead of being spent in our community on local video productions.

The FCC is still deciding on how to implement these cuts to community media centers. The best way to influence this process is pressure from Congress. If you want to ensure that Northwest Access TV is here to serve the community in coming years, please reach out to our representatives in DC and tell them why Northwest Access TV matters to you and our neighbors.


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