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Ruminations

It's "Black Friday" – the day after Thanksgiving and the "official" start of the Christmas buying season. It's the day when we look for savings and deals.

While we're all doing that, the giant cable TV companies are looking for a deal of their own from the Federal Communication

Commission (FCC).

They are advocating for the FCC to limit the amount of spending

for community programming that their local licensing agreements call for.

The net effect of the proposed change would mean the death of local access stations such as Milford Community Media Center – better known as Milford TV.

Since its creation, Milford TV has brought live and taped showing of town government and School Committee meetings and local sports and music events into our homes on a regular basis. It's fostered the creation of many locally produced shows on topics ranging from local news and politics to art to the Milford Upper Charles Trail.

And, perhaps even more importantly, Milford TV has provided the opportunity for high school and college students to learn a craft that will provide them lifelong careers.

I can't picture Milford without it. Yet, it may happen.

Basically, places like Milford TV are funded through a small charge on our cable TV bills to pay for something known as "PEG Access." "PEG" stands for Public, Education and Government." The big cable TV companies want the FCC to limit how much they have to spend on this community programming.

Recently, I had the privilege of being elected by Milford TV members to a seat on its Board of Directors. But, I'm not writing in that capacity.

Instead, I'm writing as one of its members. Over the past five years, the Town Crier has been able to produce almost 120 episodes of a 30-minute show on Milford TV. The show has given us the ability to look at issues in more depth than a standard, 500-word news story. And, it's provided local candidates for offices with one more place to communicate with potential voters.

The ability to do this has given me the opportunity to learn how to produce an edit a program – something I've never dreamed of doing before. It's also let me meet a lot of dedicated teens, some who I've watched go off to college o pursue careers in video and movie production and in television.

But, the Verizon FiOSes and Comcasts of the world want to squeeze another dollar of profit anywhere they can, so local public, educational and government channels across the entire U.S. may go dark in the very near future.

We already have "news deserts" popping up across America as more and more local newspapers are gobbled up by companies less interested in having an informed public than in making one more dollar of profit. Now, watching your local government and sports and arts programs are being threatened.

The FCC's public comment period on this proposal already

has ended, but there is something you can do. U.S. Senator

Edward Markey from Massachusetts has been an expert on telecommunications since he was a congressman. If you care about this issue, please go to: https://www.markey.senate.gov/contact and send him an e-mail.




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