WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Edward Markey (D-MA), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, reintroduced their Protecting Community Television Act. The legislation would undo Trump-era rulemaking by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and ensure that public, educational, and government (PEG) channels have the resources they need to keep producing content for their viewers. In 2019, the FCC allowed cable companies to put a price tag on in-kind contributions they provide to communities, including PEG channels. Under the rule, cable companies can then subtract the ascribed value from the franchising fees that they pay in order to operate. The FCC’s decision has forced local governments across the country to decide between supporting PEG programming and supporting other public services for schools, public safety buildings, and libraries in cable franchise agreements.
“Countless households across Wisconsin rely on community television to provide them with their local news and to lift up the voices of local businesses, organizations, and people,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to once again support the Protecting Community Television Act to ensure folks across the country can continue to access the news sources they know and trust.
“I am proud to reintroduce my Protecting Community Television Act, which will undo Trump-era rulemaking undermining community television, a service which millions of Americans rely on to keep up with the news that matters most to them, stay plugged into enriching, educational programming, and hold their local governments to account,” said Senator Markey. “At a time when cable news and media have become more consolidated than ever before, we must work to uphold local access to public, education, and government channels for every household in our country.”
In addition to Senators Baldwin and Markey, this legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT.), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The Protecting Community Television Act is endorsed by Alliance for Community Media, National Association of Counties, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, National League of Cities, and MassAccess.
Full text of the bill is available here.