FCC Extends Comment Period On PEG Migration

Citing the volume of comments, the Federal Communications Commission will give interested parties more time to weigh in on whether cable operators can move public, educational and government channels from analog, whether there should be more specific rules about the signal quality of those channels relative to others, and how AT&T's U-verse service should be defined relative to PEG requirements.

The FCC Monday extended the reply comment period on a request for a declaratory ruling on PEG channels from March 24 until April 1.

The commission said that between Feb. 6 -- when it issued the call for comment -- to the March 9 deadline it had received more than 500 comments, some of them "quite complex." Originally, only the petitioners were going to get to reply to those comments, but the FCC has decided to open up replies to all comers, which it said necessitated moving the deadline for replies.

As a result, it is also waiving the requirement that the petitioners serve their reply comments to all 500-plus commenters.

Many of those 500 comments were prompted by Free Press, which wants the FCC to require that all cable systems "must pass through closed captioning and secondary audio programs when provided by PEG content producers; must offer PEG content through the same interface and service tier as other basic cable channels, with no extra obstacles; and must deliver PEG content to the customer at the same video and audio quality as other basic -cable channels.

Free Press also requested that the FCC define AT&T's U-verse service as a cable service subject to PEG requirements.

In a related petition, four Michigan communities asking the FCC to rule on whether Comcast should have been able to move PEG channels to a digital tier there.

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.