Statewide Advocacy

Community Media Centers around the country are currently facing a variety of challenges, including a gradual consumer migration away from cable television service (which is our primary source of revenue), recent FCC rulemaking, and 2018 changes in accounting principles. These challenges have impacted or have the potential to impact the funding we need to provide vital services to our communities. Services such as: televised forums for citizen voices; media education opportunities; collaborations with non-profits, libraries, and schools; and regular video coverage of local and state government meetings.

Watch a Access Television Roundtable with Representative Peter Welch and VAN members:

In response to these challenges, Vermont Access Network members have been working with our State Legislature to find a sustainable path forward so that we can continue to serve communities well into the future.

In 2019, Act 79, a broadband deployment bill, allowed for the formations of a Legislative Study Committee to “consider changes in federal and State law and policy, market trends, and any other matters that have an effect on the availability of or funding for PEG access channels and services in Vermont.” The Committee included Legislators and representative of the cable industry, State regulatory bodies, and VAN.

Read the final report and findings of the Committee.
Watch Committee meetings and highlights.

The work of the Study Committee has resulted in the introduction of the PEG Access Television Bill (H.744/S.318) during the current Legislative session. The has several goals:

To contract with independent consultants for an evaluation of financing PEG operations and services to communities across Vermont and recommending alternative models for revenue generation.
The submission of a report on or before January 1, 2021, which may include draft legislation implementing a proposal.
The evaluation of the costs and benefits of a State partnership with PEG Access Centers to coordinate, develop, maintain, and expand the delivery of statewide videoconferencing services.
An appropriation of $100,000 in fiscal year 2021 to fund the study and related expenses.
An appropriation of $500,000 in fiscal year 2021 for support of PEG Access services impacted in 2018 by changes in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

On February 10, 2020, the State held community-based Public Hearings on the Governor’s Recommended FY 2021 State Budget at nine site across Vermont. VAN member Community Media Centers provided video coverage of all nine Hearings, and live-streaming coverage of eight. Over 30 residents came out to testify in support of funding for the PEG Access Television Bill.

Watch VAN-member coverage of each of the Public Hearings on the Governor’s Budget:

Read about what’s happening on the national front and how we’re responding.