Shaheen, Hassan Introduce Legislation to Protect Community Television

January 23, 2020

(Washington, DC) – This week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the Protecting Community Television Act with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), legislation to ensure that community television operations continue to receive the resources they need to educate and inform viewers in the cities and towns where they operate.

Currently, local governments are permitted to require as part of cable franchise agreements that cable companies meet demonstrated community needs by providing in-kind contributions that benefit schools, public safety buildings and public, educational, and government (PEG) channels, also known as community television stations. However, in August 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to permit cable companies to assign a value to these contributions and then subtract that amount from the franchise fees the cable operator pays the local community. As a result, local governments will have to decide between supporting PEG stations in cable franchise agreements or supporting other important services for critical community institutions like schools and libraries. The Protecting Community Television Act clarifies that the franchise fees that cable companies provide local governments only include monetary assessments, not in-kind contributions. 

“Community television helps keep Granite Staters and Americans across the country up to date on local news and activities, facilitates civic engagement and provides important information in emergencies,” said Senator Shaheen. “We need to bolster, not weaken, support for community television stations, which is why I’m cosponsoring this important legislation. I’ll keep working to ensure these stations have the resources they need to continue their programming that educates and informs viewers across New Hampshire.” 

“As far too many local news sources face cutbacks and even closure, New Hampshire’s community television stations play an increasingly essential role in providing Granite Staters with important information about their towns and cities,” Senator Hassan said. “Congress must protect community television stations to help ensure that people have access to the information that they need to be engaged members of their communities.” 

“Community Television in the Granite State has a long tradition of serving families and neighborhoods in very real and meaningful ways,” said Owen Provencher, President of the New Hampshire Coalition for Community Media. “This bill keeps control where it belongs - at the local level. Senators Shaheen and Hassan understand that as well as how important it is now, more than ever, to maintain the access that PEG stations give to local residents, particularly those in our communities who are most underrepresented. These hubs of community connection and engagement provide a valuable platform for access to the information cities and towns need to thrive and the opportunity to express the unique cultural needs and the voices of the people they serve. The NHCCM thanks Senators Shaheen and Hassan for their long history of supporting PEG media in New Hampshire and for co-sponsoring this bill.” 

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE. 

Endorsers of the legislation include National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, United States Conference of Mayors, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Alliance for Community Media, MassAccess, TeleCommUnity, Texas Municipal League. 

Senator Shaheen is a strong supporter of community television stations. In July 2019, Senators Shaheen and Hassan sent a letter urging the FCC to protect PEG stations