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Contact: Nancy Werner, (703) 519-8035

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- January 21, 2020 -- The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) applauds Senator Markey and Representative Eshoo for introducing the Protecting Community Television Act, which will restore the long-standing protections in federal law designed to ensure that local communities, especially local media, are not trampled by cable operators.

When Congress passed the Cable Act in 1984, among its stated purposes for the legislation were to ensure that cable companies were “responsive to the needs and interests of the local community” and “provide the widest possible diversity of information sources” to the public. In August 2019, the Federal Communications Commission voted to reinterpret the Act to undermine both of these purposes by allowing cable companies to assign a value to commitments they made in negotiated cable franchise agreements—including support for local programming and cable services to schools and libraries—and then deduct that value from their franchise fees, which is the rent they pay municipalities for use of public property. The result of this new interpretation of a decades-old statute is to force local governments to choose whether to retain the community benefits and protections negotiated in the cable franchise or to reduce franchise fee payments, which support critical public services like police, fire and libraries.

NATOA enthusiastically endorsed the Protecting Community Television Act, which is necessary to rein in the Commission’s windfall to cable operators at the expense of local media and, ultimately, local taxpayers. We thank Senator Markey and Representative Eshoo, as well as the many co-sponsors of this legislation, for their efforts on behalf of local governments and local media.