ACT Slams Charter Over PEG 'Slamming'

American Community Television, which wants PEG conditions ot be part of any Comcast/Time Warner Cable Charter deal is taking aim at Charter for what it alleges is its "malevolence toward PEG (public, education and government) channels."

Those are the channels cable ops have to make room for as part of their franchise agreements, but statewide franchises in a number of states have reduced the power of local governments to oversee those requirements.

ACT Executive director Bunnie Riedel this week took fresh aim at Charter for what ACT calls the cable operator's "slamming" of PEG channels—moving the channels to higher positions to make room for new digital services and HD as cable makes the transition from analog to digital, which ACT says unfairly forces municipal buildings, schools, libraries and others to have to get an additional box to view the moved PEG channels.

"There is no technical reason for Charter to do this and we see them replacing the Basic tier PEG channels with home shopping," said ACT. "Basic tier customers have to rent additional equipment to get to the PEG channels."

ACT has consistently hammered Charter over the issue, but the proposed merger of Comcast/TWC with spin-offs to Charter has stoked that fire. Riedel called Charter the worst cable operator in terms of treatment of PEG channels.

ACT would like to see the deal blocked. But that is unlikely. In the alternative,  "We believe strong conditions should be placed on Charter in the FCC's ongoing transfer proceedings," Reidel said in a release taking aim at the cable operator.  "It's time for communities to stand up for themselves and push back on this bully."

A Charter spokeswoman had no comment.

ACT's latest criticism of Charter came the same week the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisers was holding its annual meeting in St. Paul. Minn. Like ACT, NATOA also wants PEG protection conditions on the deal.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.