Impact of the Proposed PEG Bills

Today there are numerous advocacy groups, including the Alliance for Community Media, Save Access, and the Free Press Action Fund, that passionately defend public-access channels. Despite the rapid expansion of other sources for programming and information, PEG channels do offer benefits today. Broadcasts of local government meetings increase transparency of local government functions and help inform interested viewers about local issues. Local school concerts, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies may be viewed on cable systems and recorded by participants or their family members. PEG channels also offer training opportunities for aspiring filmmakers and on-camera personnel.

It should be noted that the proposed bills do not affect the current litigation over whether Comcast and other cable systems can move PEG channels to higher channel numbers available only to digital subscribers.[31] That dispute relates to federal requirements and the interpretation of franchise agreements. Moreover, this dispute over channel locations for PEG channels is likely to go away after the mandatory digital conversion of all signals beginning in February 2009. As one journalist summarized it following an interview with a Michigan PEG channel manager: "PEG people aren't against being on the digital tier. In fact, they're eager to see how going digital will potentially improve the experience they're able to deliver to their viewers. It may even introduce the possibility of HD. The problem isn't going digital, it's the timing of it all."[32]