FCC's Proposed Rule Threatens Cable-Access Television Funding In Vermont

Dec 3, 2018

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a new rule that would cut funding to cable-access TV stations. Stations around the country, including in Vermont, say they might cease to exist without it. 

Kevin Christopher is executive director of Lake Champlain Access Television and president of Vermont Access Network, a statewide organization for Vermont’s cable-access stations.

Christopher called the FCC’s proposal “a further attempt on the part of the FCC — like net neutrality was — to de-regulate the obligations of the cable operators and put money in shareholder pockets.”

He said the cable-access television industry has been preparing for funding decreases for the last several years, as people turn away from traditional television services. But, he said, a sudden loss of funding would be devastating.

“We’re scrambling to organize our partners, our community partners, our legislators," Christopher said. "And we’re trying to figure out how we can get calls to action out there, and what comes next.”

And Christopher said that while free and uncensored content now exists on our smartphones, cable-access television provides a unique public service.

“We’re the ones out there covering the select board meetings, the city council meetings, school boards," he said. "We’re doing gavel-to-gavel, unedited coverage of that.”

He said local community programming such as that is expensive to produce and would “certainly go away very quickly” if the FCC rule goes into effect. Christopher said he thinks a final ruling from the FCC could come mid- to late- next year.

Listen to an extended interview with Kevin Christopher above.