By Terry Kovarik
The City of Algoma plans to invest $25,000-$40,000 in new digital TV equipment for its cable public access channel. The Federal Communications Commission, however, is considering a rule that could defund such channels. The proposal would assign a monetary value to the public channels, include them in the franchise fee cable companies pay to communities and cap those payments at five-percent of gross revenue. The FCC says such channels currently are a barrier to a cable company’s profitability. Algoma City Administrator Jeff Wiswell says it’s hard to put a price on what the current public access cable channel provides to his community.
Currently, such public, education and government access channels are offered free as a condition of a local government granting providers a cable TV franchise.