New Group, ACT, Forms to Lobby on PEG's Behalf

A new group, American Community Television, has been formed to lobby on behalf of public, educational and government access television stations.

Citing state legislation, federal agency rulings and access-center closing in various states, the group is focusing its efforts at the federal level. Its president is John Rocco, who said ACT members will meet with legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss the Community Access Preservation Act (HR 3745, CAP Act) introduced by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in October 2009. ACT also will be meeting with Federal Communications Commission commissioners to discuss a pending rulemaking and a recent inquiry on the future of media and the role of PEG access in local media.

PEG access centers have been closed in Indiana, Illinois and California after state franchising laws were passed and funding was reduced or eliminated, ACT said. Additionally, access channels have been slammed off the basic tier into the digital tier, well ahead of subscriber digital adoption, or not carried as full channels on the system, as is the case with AT&T's U-verse application, ACT said.
The CAP Act would address many of these issues, according to the group.
The ACT board consists of leaders in the PEG access and telecommunications industries: Rocco has 22 years experience as an executive director of access centers across the country; Lori Panzino-Tillery (secretary) is the former president of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and currently general manager for the City of San Bernardino, Calif., Inland Empire Media Group; Richard Treich (treasurer) has more than three decades experience in the telecommunications and utilities industries, first as senior vice president for AT&T Broadband and TCI Communications and most recently as CEO of Front Range Consulting; Steven Fortriede founded Access Fort Wayne and several other access centers and served on the Alliance for Community Media board for several years; and Stephen Guzzetta is an owner of Bradley & Guzzetta, a nationally recognized law firm that represents clients on a variety of cable television and telecommunications matters.
Leading the lobbying effort will be executive director Bunnie Riedel. She is president of Riedel Communications and former executive director of the Alliance for Community Media.