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FCC Report Gives Little Play to Leased Access

WASHINGTON — Supporters of cable leased-access channel opportunities had little to applaud in the Federal Communications Commission’s latest video-competition report, and one familiar advocate has let the agency know it in response to a request for comment on what information to collect for the next report.

Charlie Stogner, president of the Leased Access Producers Association (LAPD), read the FCC the riot act for not even mentioning leased access, either in the 2015 report or the request for info on the next one.

Cable operators by law are required to set aside channels — in proportion to their total activated channels — to be leased by unaffiliated programmers.

In the notice of inquiry (NOI), the FCC had asked for information on how many leased channels were carried, on what tiers, and if the totals were more or less than had been carried previously.

Stogner would like to know that, too, but he’s not holding his breath.

When the report came out last April, Stogner said, it had no mention of leased access.

For the 2016 report, Stogner said, the FCC isn’t even asking for that information any more.

“It is clear the Media Bureau has consistently and repeatedly ignored the leased-access programmers’ concerns for many years,” he said.

Leased access was meant to be another way to ensure diversity of programming, something the FCC certainly professes a particular interest in.

An FCC spokesperson declined to comment on the omission of leased access in the report or the request for information.