Victory for PEG Channels in Maine
In a decision issued on August 3, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a Maine statute providing for nondiscriminatory treatment of public, educational and governmental (PEG) access channels and ensuring that cable service is available in rural parts of the state. The First Circuit rejected arguments by NCTA -- The Internet and Television Association that the law is preempted by provisions of the federal Cable Act.
Under Maine’s law, as affirmed by the First Circuit, cable operators (among other things) must carry PEG channels on the basic service tier, may not separate PEG channels numerically from other local broadcast channels carried on the basic tier, may not diminish the signal quality of the PEG channel, and must identify PEG channels in the electronic program guide in the same manner as local broadcast channels are identified. The law also requires local franchise agreements to include a line extension policy requiring the cable operator to make cable service available to every residence where there is a minimum density of 15 residences per linear strand mile of aerial cable.