Tran Signs Letter Fighting Cable Access Change
By Mina Corpuz
FITCHBURG -- Sen. Dean Tran is among a group of 16 state senators who wrote to Federal Communications Commission about a proposed rule that could cut funding to local community access TV stations.
“The new regulations would have a tremendous negative impact on my district and communities around the commonwealth,” the Fitchburg Republican said last Friday.
Senators from both parties signed the letter urging Commissioner Ajit Pai to think about the educational and public safety information these stations provide.
“Community access television plays a vital role in keeping the communities we represent informed about local issues and politics as well as providing access to educational programming,” the letter says.
The FCC is considering a rule that would allow cable providers to deduct the cost of local programming from franchising fees paid to cities and towns. That rule is supported by the telecommunications industry.
If the rule passes, municipalities would need to find another way to fund local public access television. What the stations are able to provide could be reduced or eliminated, the letter says.
Tran said local access television stations are important and that funding for them should be continued or increased.
There are five public access television stations in his district, including Fitchburg Access Television and Leominster Access Television.
The stations stream municipal meetings like School Committee or Board of Selectmen, host shows, and record community events like sports games and concerts.
He is looking forward to a response from the FCC.
“The FCC could tell cable providers that their request to deduct is denied,” Tran said. “That is the favorable outcome we’re hoping for.”
His office drafted the letter from the state senators and sent it to the FCC last week.
Sen. Anne Gobi, a Spencer Democrat whose district includes Ashburnham, is another senator from North Central Massachusetts who signed the letter.
Tran said there could have been more signatures from members of the Senate and colleagues in the House of Representatives, but he wanted to send out the letter as soon as possible.
Since sending it, Tran has heard from other state senators who have written their own letters to the FCC.
The letter echoes concerns raised by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, who sent his own letter to the commission.
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