Our View: State sides with local TV, let's hope Comcast does, too
The state has sided with the people of Vermont in requiring Comcast to continue supporting public access television.
Vermont Public Radio reports that the Public Utility Commission — Formerly known as the Public Service Board — denied a motion filed by Comcast to lift some of the requirements on its certificate of public good.
Under the certificate, Comcast must, over the next 11 years, build 550 miles of new cable lines into Vermont's hard-to-reach places, and make sure local shows can be found within its program guide.
Comcast isn't happy with the decision, saying it'll force rates to go up. To "fairly compete" in Vermont, it needs some requirements lifted.
VPR quoted Comcast spokeswoman, Kristen Roberts, as saying the company is still reviewing the order and hasn't made up its mind on what to do next.
Comcast may opt to leave the matter alone, or it could take it to court. We'll have to wait and see.
Comcast is currently required to support local cable access stations like Catamount Access Television (CAT-TV) and Greater Northshire Access Television (GNAT).
CAT-TV can be viewed on channels 15, 16, and 17. It serves Bennington, North Bennington, Woodford, Pownal, and Shaftsbury, though anyone can watch its shows on its YouTube channel, plus it often livestreams events it covers.
The station will teach members of the community how to use camera equipment and editing software. People can use this to produce their own shows or help film special events and meetings of the local government and school boards.
We at the Banner find that last piece pretty useful. We can't be everywhere at once and stations like CAT-TV and GNAT help us catch up on what we missed. You can do the same. You never have to miss a three-hour select board meeting and can watch them all live or taped from the comfort of your own home.
GNAT serves the towns of Arlington, Dorset, Londonderry, Manchester, Peru, Rupert, Sandgate, Stratton, Sunderland, Weston, Winhall. It, too, has an online presence. It also boasts The News Project, focusing on covering local news stories "not covered through traditional media outlets."
We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention GNAT's "Vermont Voices," which is hosted by Cherise Madigan, a reporter for the Banner and Manchester Journal. Recent Voices have been Linda Joy Sullivan, who represents the Bennington-Rutland District in the Vermont House, and Bennington County Senator Dick Sears.
These stations are one of the many threads that hold our communities together, not only by keeping people informed but by getting those same people involved in the process. We applaud our state utility regulators for looking our them and we hope Comcast — Which we'll remind you is the largest broadcast/cable company on the planet in terms of revenue — is able to look past its bottom line and see the good it's being required to support and not fight the commission's decision.
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