Vermont Public Service Board

8.410 - 8.420 Designation of Channels and Obligations of Cable Operator

8.400 Access Standards: Minimum Standards for Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Access.

8.410 Designation of Channels. Every cable television system shall designate channel capacity for PEG access as follows:

8.411 Less than twenty-one channel systems. The operator of a cable television system with a channel capacity of less than twenty-one (21) channels shall designate at least one full-time activated channel for public, educational and governmental use.

8.412 Twenty-one or more channel systems. The operator of a cable television system with a channel capacity of twenty-one (21) or more channels shall designate:

(A) At least one full-time activated channel for public, educational, and governmental access use.

(B) At least one full-time channel for educational or governmental access use, to be activated at such time as the channel required by paragraph (A) is used for PEG access programming, on a weekly average, during more than fifty percent of the hours between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. When this channel has been activated the channel required by paragraph (A) shall be designated as being for public access purposes.

(C) One additional full-time channel for public, educational, and governmental access use, to be activated at such time as the channel required by paragraph (B) shall have been used for such programming on the average of at least twelve (12) hours per day during any ninety (90) day period; provided, however, that the calculation of such average shall not include any day when the unavailability of PEG access facilities precludes achieving such programming level.

(D) In the event that three channels for public, educational, and governmental use are required to be activated, one channel shall be designated for each type of use; provided, however, that any channel may be used for any purpose if necessary to satisfy the demand for channel time, and as agreed by the administrative entities.

(E) Where a system does not include sufficient unused channel capacity to accommodate a third PEG access channel resulting from the operation of this section, the cable television operator may defer the obligation to provide such additional channel until additional channel capacity becomes available on the system.

8.413 Community bulletin board. When no PEG access programming is available for cablecasting, or no PEG access administrative entity (as described in 8.430) exists, the operator may insert programming in the nature of a character-generated community bulletin board.

8.414 Capabilities. The designation of PEG access facilities shall include the provision by the cable television operator of the technical ability to play back pre-recorded programming and to transmit programming information consistent with the designated uses of PEG access channels.

8.420 Obligations of Cable Operator.

8.421 Plan. Every cable television operator shall maintain on file with the Board an access plan which shall provide the details of the access channels and facilities. The plan shall include:

(A) A description of existing equipment and facilities.

(B) A capital budget and timetable for the purchase of new and replacement equipment and facilities.

(C) An operating budget for the payment of current expenses.

(D) A clear statement whether the equipment and facilities are contributed to the entity administering or managing the company's access program or are retained by the operator and made available to the access entity.

(E) If the operator will retain custody of the PEG access funds, to be disbursed as directed by the access advisory entity or entities, an annual report of the expenditures actually made and the funds remaining to be spent, to be submitted to the entity or entities.

(F) A plan for performing outreach in the service area for the purpose of informing the public of the opportunity for access to the cable system and to encourage the formation of an access advisory entity.

(G) A description of the amounts of access programming which will trigger:

  1. the replacement of character-generated bulletin board format programming with publicly produced programming;
  2. the activation of the second, third, and additional channels required by sections 8.412(B) and (C).
This description of programming amounts may be inconsistent with the provisions of 8.412, if it is part of a plan negotiated with an access administrative entity described in 8.430 and approved by the Board. The operator shall file updates and modifications to the plan as they are made from time to time.

8.422 Consultations. The plan should be prepared in consultation or through negotiation with the access administrative entities described in section 8.430, if one exists. If the operator and an administrative entity cannot reach an agreement on the plan, either of them may submit their dispute to the Board for resolution.

8.423 No editorial control. The cable television operator shall not exercise any editorial control over any public, educational or governmental use of channel capacity designated for PEG purposes, and it shall not be liable for their content.

8.424 Inclusion in basic service. Channels designated for PEG use shall be included in all basic service offerings by the cable television system.

8.425 Use by operator. A cable television operator shall be permitted to use time on a PEG access channel under the following circumstances:

(H) For local origination programming, whenever such PEG channel is not scheduled for use at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of such time or times desired by the cable television operator or with the approval of the access administrative entity.

(I) For commercial programming, whenever such PEG channel is not scheduled for use at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of such time or times desired by the cable television operator and there are no blank channels available on the same level of service which includes the PEG channel.

(J) All non-access programming on PEG channels is identified as such by an appropriate announcement made prior to and following each non-access use.

(K) As used in the preceding paragraphs, community bulletin board programming does not constitute PEG access programming.

8.426 Limitation on use by operator. Notwithstanding the foregoing, at such time as any PEG channel on a cable television system with a channel capacity in excess of forty (40) channels has been programmed for a daily average of eight (8) hours or fifty percent (50%) of the activated hours, whichever is less, during any ninety (90) day period, use of such channel by the cable television operator shall be suspended for such time as such minimum PEG use of such channel is maintained, except for local origination programming with the approval of the access administrative entity.

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