Communication companies are in a special position because a democracy depends on people being well-informed so that they can “rule themselves” responsibly. Broadcasters carry syndicated and network programming all day, but they carry local news, too. The Internet may be used heavily by businesses, but it is open to any person who wants to create a website or send an email.  Without PEG channels, cable systems would be entirely closed to the public.

Communication companies are in a special position because a democracy depends on people being well-informed so that they can “rule themselves” responsibly. Broadcasters carry syndicated and network programming all day, but they carry local news, too. The Internet may be used heavily by businesses, but it is open to any person who wants to create a website or send an email.

Without PEG channels, cable systems would be entirely closed to the public.

State Legislative Priorities

September, 2019
Video service providers should be prevented from handling PEG channels in an inferior manner.

·       PEG programming produced in HD should be transmitted in HD like all other channels, not degraded to long out-of-date SD (low resolution Standard Definition).  This is a serious problem. Nearly all PEG channels are carried in SD, but nearly all WCM member municipalities produce programming in HD or higher resolutions.

·       PEG channel program schedules should appear in the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) like all other channels. This is where viewers go to find and select a show to watch or record.  Only a handful of PEG channels appear on the EPG statewide despite efforts to gain permission from the largest cable operator in the state.

·       PEG channels should be carried on the basic tier of service so that 100% of cable TV subscribers may view these local channels.

 The 2007 State Franchise Law shifted the burden for paying for transmission equipment and upstream lines from video service providers to municipalities.  This should be reversed. 

·       The largest cable operator in the state carries PEG access channels in an obsolete format that is so out-of-date that transmission equipment is extremely difficult to find, even on secondhand markets. The burden should be on the video service provider to find and pay for compatible equipment.

·       Video Service Providers are sole source vendors. That means municipalities cannot send out an Request For Proposal to several vendors to get the best price on constructing transmission lines. When an origination point needs to be moved, such as when a city hall moves to a new building, municipalities must accept the price quoted by a video service provider, whatever that may be. The FCC just affirmed that video service providers may be required to pay for PEG capital equipment and transmission facilities by franchising authorities (in our case, the State of Wisconsin).

 The 2007 State Franchise Law outlawed “PEG fees” that help pay for equipment.  They should be reinstated as a local option. 

Federal law allows and the FCC just affirmed that local franchising authorities — in Wisconsin, that is the State Legislature — may assess a PEG fee on cable TV subscribers to pay for PEG-related capital equipment and facilities that municipalities need to operate a PEG channel.  WCM suggests a PEG fee equal to 0.5% of video gross revenues per year as a local option.  The fee would assist municipalities in purchasing production and transmission equipment and in complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to PEG access channels.

  • Since the Wisconsin legislature recently reduced the video service provider fee to a maximum of 4% beginning in 2021, a 0.5% PEG fee could also be used for PEG operating expenses.

 The 2007 law eliminated any way to hold video service providers accountable.  This should be corrected. 
A point person should be available to respond quickly to service interruptions and to municipal and school district requests to move channel origination locations within a reasonable time.  Penalties should be associated with noncompliance.

Governor Tony Evers

Governor Tony Evers

Governor allows reduction of Video Service Provider Fees to Stand

but Makes subsidy TO MUNICIPALITIES permanent

July, 2019. Governor Tony Evers partially vetoed a budget provision that reduces video service provider fees by deleting the language that would have limited the taxpayer subsidy to ten years.  As a result, municipalities will not see any loss in revenue, and will likely see more revenue from this source since revenue sharing is based on 2018 and 2019 video service provider income.  However, it also means that this allocation will need to be renewed in every biennial budget and the law could always be changed. 

For a detailed summary of the provision, go here, keeping in mind that the governor has made the subsidy permanent. All other provisions remain the same.

CITIES! Deadline to apply for subsidy is August 15

The amount allocated for revenue sharing in the first year (2020) is limited to $5 million.  Cities need to apply for this money from the Department of Revenue and they need to provide the amount of the video service provider fee they received in 2018 and the amount of 2018 gross revenues that video service providers reported to them BY AUGUST 15, 2019 in order to qualify for revenue sharing from the state.