A Tennessee regulatory authority has told AT&T to supply
working equipment ASAP so Uverse customers can see PEG channels.
PEG channel advocate American Community Television was celebrating
a victory on Wednesday in the PEG community's effort to make sure viewers can
access those public, educational and government channels.
The Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) has ruled that
AT&T has 30 days (from Jan. 7) to provide the equipment necessary to view
the channels over its Uverse video service.
A statewide franchising law requires AT&T to provide the
requisite equipment, but after the majority of its AT&T encoders stopped working
in June and AT&T did not replace them, according to Community Television of
Knoxville, it has not been accessible on Uverse for the past six months.
the city of Knoxville appealed to the TRA, with support from a number of
other Tennessee cities and towns, TRA sided with the PEG folks and AT&T has
been given 30 days after which it could be fined up to $1,000 a day for noncompliance.
"AT&T is under a continuing duty to provide working
alteration equipment to the local governments and has not done so," the
TRA decision read, "therefore, [we] find that a violation of the PEG
requirements has occurred. AT&T must be given a reasonable period of time
to come into compliance; therefore, I move that AT&T must repair or replace
the defective encoding equipment no later than 30 days from today's date."
AT&T had argued that it was required by the law to
supply the equipment, but not to repair it once it had been provided.
"This is a victory for access channels across the state of
Tennessee," said John Rocco, president of American Community Television, in a
statement. David Vogel, who runs Community Television of Knoxville, agreed,
saying that others are starting to have issues with the encoders. He added:
"We have never had a problem with Comcast or Charter [cable operators also
required to carry the PEG channels]. "They repair their equipment."
Vogel says he has talked with an AT&T representative who
said the equipment will be replaced. AT&T had no comment.