METHUEN (MCTV) – The Federal Communications Commission “Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM) on Cable Franchising” was published in the Federal Register on October 15.
The deadline for comments was November 14. This proposed Rule seeks to redefine and place a value on cable franchise obligations that have been traditionally defined as “In-Kind”. It has the potential of allowing each cable TV company to decide what they can charge for the “free” services the city currently receives from the contract and deduct it from the cable fees they pay to the city. These fees have long been considered compensation to the city for the use of our public ways to string cable to operate their for-profit business. Furthermore, under this proposed rule, they would be allowed to decide how much that is worth – basically from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is our belief that this undermines the intent of the Cable Act. US Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts has written a letter of support and is working to get other Senators to sign on against the rulemaking. Methuen Community Television and Mayor Jajuga’s office filed comments against this proposal.