Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Community Media?
2. Why do communities include access requirements in cable franchises?
3. How is PEG funded?
4. What is the preferred management structure for a PEG access operation?
5. What are the advantages of the nonprofit corporation/CMAC model?
6. What services will CMAC provide?
7. What is the relationship between CMAC, the JPA, and local cities?
8. How will CMAC protect the community from potentially “offensive” programs on PEG Channels?
Q. What is Community Media?
A: Community Media consists of video programming and other electronic information created by and for the community to address local issues, needs and interests. The term “PEG access” is specifically identified in the Federal Cable Act as “Public, Educational, and Government use” of cable system assets. For over 30 years, PEG Access has been a resource available to citizens in hundreds of communities across the country. The Fresno-Clovis area has been rare exceptions for a community of our size.
Public access consists of video programming and other electronic information produced, directed, and engineered by community volunteers. (For convenience, all types of information carried on PEG channels will be referred to as “programming,” although PEG channels are used to carry video information, data, video text, and voice communications.) In the case of public access, the programming is developed or acquired by nonprofit community groups, neighborhood organizations, social service agencies, and individual citizens. It focuses on many aspects of community life, ranging from the services and activities of community organizations to the opinions and beliefs of individuals in the community.
Educational access is developed or acquired by school or college employees, students, and school volunteers. It typically focuses on distance learning, school activities, and information that the school/college wants to get out to the community or share among schools.
Government access is created or acquired by local government employees, elected officials, and volunteers. It typically focuses on information about services provided by local, State, and regional governments, issues faced by local governments, and public meeting coverage. Government access is also used for other purposes, such as providing training to City employees or exchanging information between City agencies and other institutions.
The content of the material carried on PEG access is determined by the individuals, groups, or organizations that produce it. PEG access is typically noncommercial in that there is no commercial advertising on PEG access. Access channels may provide PBS-style credit for underwriters.
Q: Why do communities include access requirements in cable franchises?
A: The Federal Cable Acts of 1984 and 1992 and California’s 2006 Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA) permit local governments to include requirements for PEG access channels, equipment, facilities, services, and funding for their communities. The federal Cable Acts explain the purposes of PEG Access channels in this way: “They provide groups and individuals who generally have not had access to the electronic media with the opportunity to become sources of information in the electronic marketplace of ideas.”
Q: How is PEG funded?
A: Since cable companies are for-profit businesses, they are required to pay “rent” to cities in exchange for the use of taxpayer-owned “public rights of way” to run their cable lines to homes and businesses. California law sets this “franchise fee” at 5% of a cable company’s local revenues and provides for an additional 1% to be used exclusively to support PEG access within a community.
Q: What is the preferred management structure for a PEG access operation?
A: The creation of a nonprofit corporation is broadly recognized as a highly advantageous approach to facilitating Community Media/PEG Access in a community. These nonprofit access management corporations are created specifically to manage access channels, facilities, and equipment and to provide access services. They are tax-exempt and are identified as 501(c)(3) organizations. Such corporations exist in hundreds of communities both large and small, including the following:
Gilroy/Hollister/San Juan Batista, CA
Mountain View, CA
Palo Alto, CA
Santa Rosa, CA
Q: What are the advantages of the nonprofit corporation/CMAC model?
A: In Fresno, the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) was formed specifically for the purpose of managing PEG Access channels and facilities for local communities. There are many advantages, including:
• Demonstrated track record of achievement in many communities creating a truly cooperative relationship among public, educational and government access users;
• Elimination of unnecessary layers of bureaucracy associated with multiple access management entities, providing most efficient use of available equipment, facilities, and funding; also assures the ability for each participant, whether a resident, a community group, a school district, or city government, to maintain control of their own program content and, a the same time, have all the benefits derived from collaborations with other groups and entities.
• Operations and programming efforts are more responsive to the community’s needs.
• Non-profit Board of Directors is broad-based and representative of the community, providing greater accountability and a collaborative approach to decision making;
• Insulates local government from actual or perceived liability for program content, Allows local government to focus on accountability rather than arbitrating programming and content issues.
Q: What services will CMAC provide?
1. Manage Public, Educational, and Government Access Channels
Administration of cable access resources on a non-discriminatory basis under the guidance and direction of a representative, community based, non-profit Board of Directors.
2. Operate One or More PEG Access Production Facilities
Facilitate use of shared PEG production facilities and equipment in accordance with operating policies established by the Board. Operate facilities in a way that encourages collaboration between PEG entities where appropriate and reduces costly duplication of services and facilities.
3. Enforce Operating Rules and Procedures
Apply established rules and procedures for use and operation of access equipment, facilities, and channels fairly and consistently.
4. Provide Training
Teach video production techniques to Fresno and Clovis residents and other eligible users including city staff, school personnel and local agency/organization members. Provide technical support for PEG production activity.
5. Coordinate Playback/Cablecast of Programming
Provide for daily scheduling and telecast of programs on the access channels.
6. Maintain Access Equipment
Provide regular maintenance and repair of all video equipment.
7. Conduct Promotion/Outreach Efforts
Actively promote the use and benefits of the access channels and facilities to access users, community groups, local government, educational institutions, and the general public.
8. Develop Volunteer and Internship Opportunities
Develop and manage an ongoing pool of skilled volunteers and student/community interns to create community-based programs and assist with other productions as needed (including government and educational content, if requested).
Q: What is the relationship between CMAC, the JPA, and local cities?
A: CMAC, as a nonprofit access corporation, would operate access channels and facilities and provide services under contract with the Fresno-Clovis Cable Access Joint Powers Authority (JPA). Each city represented within the JPA, or which designates CMAC as its PEG management provider, is automatically granted a seat on the CMAC Board of Directors.
Q: How will CMAC protect the community from potentially “offensive” programs on PEG Channels?
A: CMAC takes its PEG management responsibility very seriously and encourages only the highest and best use of the resource. CMAC’s PEG Access policies prohibit obscene, indecent and slanderous material as well as any content advocating violence or hate. Programs designed for mature audiences will require an on-screen message alerting viewers to the nature of the program as well as a “broadcast flag” to activate TV parental controls (V-chip). In addition, programs with mature themes may be restricted for airing only between the hours of midnight and 5am. These protections are equal to, or greater than, those offered by any broadcast, cable or satellite service currently operating in Fresno County.