American Community Television (ACT) has called for PEG
commitments as part of any AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
ACT, which advocates for protections and better
treatment/placement of public, educational and government (PGE)
channels, pointed to Comcast's "willingness" to make PEG
access commitments in securing FCC approval of its deal to join up with NBCU, and
wants the AT&T/T-Mobile meld to include PEG
provisions on AT&T's U-Verse video service.
Comcast pledged not to move PEG
channels to digital until a community was ready or its system went all-digital,
and to "safeguard the continued accessibility and signal quality of PEG
channels on its cable television systems and introduce new on demand and online
platforms for PEG content."
ACT has complained that the channels on U-Verse, which is
already digital and so has no migration issues, are hard to find and suffer from
bad transmission quality. They also complain that AT&T charges communities
for the cost of transmission, pointing to a March 2008 video they said
illustrated the problems.
"We are going to call on AT&T to fix the channel 99
problem [PEG channels in a sub-menu of that
channel], the quality and accessibility issues and the fee for
transmission issue," said ACT President John Rocco. "These telecommunications corporations
have an obligation to the public interest because they use our public
rights-of-way and our public spectrum."
An AT&T spokesperson pointed to its own, newer, video
that it said demonstrated that the channels were clear and not difficult to
find, and that improvements in load times had been made. The video points out
that PEG channels are on the opening screen.
"We are committed to carrying Public, Educational, and
Government (PEG) programming over AT&T
U-verse TV, having deployed the service in hundreds of cities with
hundreds of PEG channels," AT&T
said in a statement, adding that the video demonstrates that its programming
"can be easily and quickly accessible, is high quality and offers many