Action Alert: Save Community Media

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The FCC has proposed a rule that could eliminate the major source of funding for Belmont Media Center and our neighbors in Cambridge, Watertown, Arlington, etc., with the result that BMC and hundreds of public-educational-government access TV channels in the US would be forced to close our doors and shut down the Belmont's 3 local access TV channels.

The proposed rule would change the “franchise fee” structure that has been in place under the US Communications Act of 1984, that created, defined and provides the funding framework for community TV stations for decades.  The proposed rule would allow cable TV providers to charge cities and towns like Belmont for access to historically “in-kind” resources such as cable channels, networks, and access to their system to deliver content to local subscribers' homes.

This proposed rule would then eliminate the free access that Belmont Media Center provide to residents, groups, schools, and even our local & state government to create their own media and cablecast & stream it over the cable systems and the web.  One of our most powerful, most democratic local resources could be lost.

Fortunately, our Massachuestts Senators Edward J. Markey & Elizabeth Warren submitted a LETTER to voice their objections from the United States Senate to the Federal Communications Commission.

 But now we need Belmont residents to voice your concern directly to the FCC by the deadline of November 15th.
The process to file your comments online is easy and takes about 2 minutes.
(HERE is a short video on how to file comments to the FCC)

Submit a comment to the FCC before November 15th in just 3 steps:
- Visit the FCC at Bit.ly/SaveCommunityMedia
- Click on +Express
- Fill in your information, add your comments and submit.
(DOWNLOAD Sample Comments or see below)

Read more about the proposed FCC rule HERE
Download the FCC Fact Sheet HERE

If you need additional help to prepare your comment, or want to know more, please contact:
Jeffrey Hansell
Executive DIrector, BMC
jeff@belmontmedia.org or call directly > (617) 484-2443 OFFICE  or  (857) 928-6977 CELL

SAMPLE COMMENTS:

I am against OR I oppose the FCC’s proposed new rule in any form as it will likely defund and eliminate a critical community resource: Belmont Media Center (our PEG access TV channel provider).

Franchise fees as they have been collected and directed since 2005, to support the local channels, operations, & equipment managed by Belmont Media Center, have been well spent and have directly benefitted cable TV subscribers, Belmont residents, our public schools, and our local government. Adoption of the new rulemaking by the FCC will harm our community, and likely result in destroying a critical and robust public telecommunications infrastructure upon which many people depend.

This FCC rule, if adopted, will harm the public, the local school system, and our local government in Belmont, MA, by eliminating the necessary funding formula or reducing franchise fees that are a part of the cable TV systems, operated by Verizon & Comcast.  By contrast, the current interpretation of federal law which has been in force for decades, continues to serve the best interests of the public by sustaining our local electronic communications network and infrastructure.

As a resident of Belmont MA, and a parent of students in the Belmont Public Schools, my family & I derive great benefit directly from the services, local programming, and classes that our local PEG access TV channel provides through our school system, at no cost to taxpayers, local government, or schools.

In the Town of Belmont, our local PEG access TV channels, operated by Belmont Media Center, offer live and repeat broadcasts of Board of Selectmen meetings, but also for the Warrant Committee, School Committee, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, High School Building Committee, Municipal Light Board, Information Technology Advisory Committee, Town Meeting, other public meetings and Town/School public events & community forums. The reduction of franchise fees that will result in the adoption of this rule will eliminate an irreplaceable tool of local governanace and a vital communications link upon which Belmont residents have come to depend over the last twelve years.

Every day, students in the middle school use the new Library TV studio that was built by and is operated by our PEG Access Channel (Belmont Media Center) at no additional costs to taxpayers, local government or to the public schools.   This new and vital educational media resource would not have been possible without the franchise fees collected by the Town of Belmont and directed to fund operations of Belmont Community Media Center, which was founded and mandated to serve the public, schools and government.

As a taxpayer it is vital and necessary that Belmont Media Center provide live & recorded local TV coverage of our School Committee & Board of Selectmen as residents consider a vote to fund the construction of a new high school. Adoption of this new rule by the FCC will destroy Belmont Media Center’s vital mission to keep taxpayers informed and educated about how our local & state government works and the actions it takes that affect all.