When a cable service provider applies for a state-issued certificate to serve a city, the city must notify the state of the number of any public, educational, and government access channels (PEG channels) that are in use or have yet to be activated under any existing franchise agreement. In addition, the city’s notice must include the terms under which such PEG channels are provided under the existing agreement. This information is required to be filed with the Tennessee Public Utility Commission by the city, even if the application is not filed by the incumbent provider. Within 90 days of providing cable services, the holder of a state-issued certificate must provide the same number of PEG channels, under the same terms, as the number the city has activated with the incumbent provider.
The number of PEG channels a city is entitled to receive is the number provided under the existing franchise agreement on January 1, 2008, even if the agreement expires or is terminated for a state-issued certificate. Cities receiving no PEG channels under an existing franchise agreement may make a written request that PEG channel access be provided by the cable company serving the area, and the company must provide access based on population of the area served. Up to three PEG channels must be provided to a city with 50,000 or more households; up to two PEG channels for a city having fewer than 50,000 but more than 25,000 households; and, one PEG channel for a city with fewer than 25,000 households. The cities and counties served in the area shall determine how the PEG channels will be shared by the local governments.
The operation and content of programming for PEG channels is the responsibility of the local governments. Holders of state-issued certificates of franchise authority must transmit PEG channels by either interconnection or transmission of the signal from each PEG channel programmer’s origination point. State-authorized PEG access support fees are available to cities in amounts not to exceed 1 percent of gross revenues. Incumbent agreements requiring PEG support fees will remain in effect. Local governments not receiving PEG access support fees under existing franchise agreements may adopt an ordinance or resolution requiring the holder of a state-issued certificate to make PEG support payments to the county or city. However, the PEG access support fees, combined with the franchise fees, may not exceed 5 percent of gross revenues.
Incumbent cable service providers that provide free cable service to schools or government offices in a city or county must continue to provide free service to those areas until the termination date of the existing agreement. The city or county must provide a listing to the cable company of locations at which free service is provided. Any other cable or video service provider or holder of a state-issued certificate that serves the same area must provide free service to the same locations.