The McAllen (Tex.) School District has asked the FCC to block Time Warner Cable from migrating PEG channels
from analog to digital there starting Oct. 1.
That is according to a request for a standstill order supplied to B&C by attorneys for the district.
The McAllen district, which describes itself as a heavy user of educational channel
access, wants the FCC to block the move to digital there and elsewhere until it acts on other petitions,
which the commission has had under consideration since February 2009, seeking a declaratory ruling that
migrating the channels to a digital tier is discrimination.
"Had the Commission issued the requested rulings, it would have prevented incumbent cable operators from discriminating against PEG channels or exercising editorial control over the PEG channel capacity. But, some
19 months later, the Commission has not yet issued a decision in this docket," the petition stated.
PEG channels are not mandated by federal law, as is carriage of local TV stations. Instead, the 1992 Cable
Act gives localities the ability to require channel set asides for public, educational, or government
Cable operators are moving PEG channels as part of the eventual move of all their channels to digital, and in
the short term to help free up more capacity for advanced services.
The petition calls Time Warner Cable's move an "immediate threat," but adds that the "discrimination" is not unique
to Time Warner Cable.
"We have just received a copy of the filing
and will review it, said Jon Gary Herrera, a spokesman for TWC, Texas
region. "The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which
we are members of, has previously
provided comments to the FCC regarding the delivery of PEG Channels."
In those comments, NCTA argued that that digitization is part of cable's
own transition to digital, that it frees up valuable channel space
while minimizing the disruption to analog customers,
and that there is nothing in the Cable Act that prevents the
digitization of some of the basic tier channels even if that means some
customers may need to get new equipment to see them.