Back to PURA’s Docket #22-06-26: study of the Operations of Certified Third-Party Nonprofit Community Access Programming Providers, not-so-fondly known as That Darn Study. A second set of interrogatories was issued by the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), some to cables, others to CAPs (both nonprofit and cable-run). We recently reviewed the final prompt:

OCC-15. Based on your experience, please describe any obstacles you believe impact audience maintenance and growth.

Like PURA-43, this interrogatory tries to get at the heart of the study–what’s the problem? what’s the solution? In fourteen responses submitted so far, we counted the following phrases as Obstacles:

  • lack of funding/dependence on cable subscriber fees/increased expenses/staff cuts (10)
  • streaming/”cord-cutting”/”cord-switching” (8)
  • not on High Definition channel (7)
  • not on Electronic Program Guide (3)
  • no access to info on viewership (1)
  • captioning/second language audio not available/too expensive (3)
  • keeping/attracting interested producers (1)
  • state policy in legislation and regulation (2)

Two respondents point out that “audience maintenance and growth” is not a goal for community access; local interest, availability, access is more important. That is, OCC asks the wrong question, or at least asks it the wrong way.

Paired with some of the obstacles, some respondents offered solutions:

  • funding support from fees on streaming/internet subscribers
  • return to the franchise renewal process, and other regulation that was deleted in 2007
  • use of the PEGPETIA fund as intended (for community access capital expenses)

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