Do the Fundamental Things Apply?

And if so, what are they?

In spring of 2022, Senate Bill 278 to bolster funding for the official Community Access Providers (CAPs) was progressing to the Senate floor, but suffered a Strike-All Amendment on the last day of the legislative session. Instead of establishing per subscriber fees from subscribers to any service offered by a Multichannel Video Program Distributor (cable), legislature directed the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) to undertake “a study regarding the operations of certified third-party nonprofit organizations responsible for community access operations and facilities.”

PURA opened Docket # 22-06-26 “PURA Study of the Operations of Certified Third-Party Nonprofit Community Access Programming Providers.” The study includes operations of the cable-run CAPs. It was referred to the Office of Education, Outreach, and Enforcement (EOE). EOE requested written comments on some general issues about funding and (following language in the legislation)

“recommendations regarding how to effectuate the consolidations of community access operations to ensure that any recommended increase to the remaining community access organizations’ operational and capital budgets is at minimum net neutral to the average funding collected from the applicable franchise area in the fiscal years ending June 30, 2019, June 30, 2020, and June 30, 2021.”

It has been pointed out several times that those are the years of lowest revenue for CAPs from cable subscribers.

EOE then issued interrogatories shortly before Election Day to the companies and the CAPs (both company-run and third-party). Lots and lots of requests for information, most of which PURA has been collecting in Annual Reports. Financial information has always been collected for calendar year, but now EOE wanted that converted into the July 1-June 30 fiscal years used by state government. EOE asked for responses within 4 weeks. Time extensions were usually granted, but most PEGs know all about the stress around Election Day hyperactivity.

Fifteen interrogs were issued to the cable companies. Another 28 were issued to CAPs. The data would make your eyes cross, but the last one is probably the most interesting.


Describe the fundamental purposes of community access of the CAP, including but not limited to, the following:

  • enhancing First Amendment rights;
  • providing for the dissemination of diverse views and for a marketplace of ideas and information;
  • capitalizing on the possibilities inherent in “narrowcasting,” as contrasted with broadcasting;
  • providing for viable alternatives to commercial programming,
  • and enhancing a sense of community among residents of the town and franchise area.

It’s like a writing prompt or essay question, right? The difference between how the cable companies answer for their employed CAPs and how the third-party CAPs answer for themselves is worth checking out.

Samples from the Companies

Altice/Cablevision (page 3)

Altice objects to this interrogatory, to the extent that it seeks an opinion of Altice as to the legislative intent of the PEG program in Connecticut. However, in Altice’s experience, and as shown by the data provided, community access is no longer the preferred outlet for content creators or consumers to distribute or receive their First Amendment-protected speech….

Breezeline/Atlantic Broadband/Metrocast (page 2)

As the Community Access Provider in the subject years 2018 through 2021, and today, the Company continues to support the provision of meaningful community access programming pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes (“Conn. Gen. Stat.”) § 16-331a.

Charter/Spectrum (pages 57)

Per Conn. Gen. Stat. §16-331a(g), Charter has no editorial control over access programming and therefore does not encourage or discourage specific types of content. With no discretion over programming, it is the users who determine the purpose of community access.

Comcast (page 53)

As reflected in the Written Comments submitted by the New England Connectivity and Tele­commu­ni­cations Association in this proceeding on November 10, 2022 [find that here], PEG channels were originally carved out as a so-called “electronic soapbox” with the advent of cable franchising decades ago. Since that time however, the landscape has changed dramatically….

Cox operates public studios in three areas of the state, but apparently did not submit responses to any interrogatories. They filed a motion for an extension of time on 11/17/22, but the motion was ruled moot.

To be continued

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