Follow by Email

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where are the PEG Funds?

The old Preacher told a story once about a frog in a saucepan full of water. The heat was applied slowly and the frog just adjusted to the water temperature and swam around until he cooked himself to death.

This might be a good description of that 71 cents a month you pay Comcast for Public, Educational and Government television. Since you pay a lot more for other channels like MTV and ESPN, the PEG fee is a good bargain.

$.71 is not a lot of money even when paid out each month. But it does add up and should provide a quality and valuable PEG service to subscribers. That’s the whole idea. So imagine my surprise when I am told that there is “no money for PEG” or that “we already spent the money.”

What is that bubbly sound I hear in my little hot tub?

Five years ago I obtained some numbers about Comcast subscribers in Central Contra Costa County. Today I asked Christine Wampler at Contra Costa Television for more current County information, which she had at her fingertips. The numbers reflect a 18% reduction in subscribers. So in the great tradition of voodoo math I submit to you an approximation of how much money has been paid for the PEG specific fund by Comcast. That would be the 2004 subscribers minus 18%. These figure are for astonishment and comparison only. They are definitely close but not quite reliable.

City ...................Subscribers....Estimated PEG fund payments

Clayton .................. 2,728........... 63,917.04..... 1,936.88 mo.
Concord ............... 18,021......... 422,232.03..... 12,794.91 mo.
Danville................. 9,597.......... 224,857.00...... 6,813.70 mo.
Martinez ................8,556......... 200,467.08...... 6,074.76 mo.
Pleasant Hill.......... 9,110.......... 423,422.35...... 6,468.10 mo.
Walnut Creek...... 12,180............285,377.40.... 8,647.80 mo.
Contra Costa Co...32,313............757,093.59... 22,942.30 mo.

Totals.................. 92,505........... $2,167,392...... $65,678.45

Access Contra Costa advanced a preliminary proposal to provide public and educational access from a capital funds budget amounting to 4.6% of the available funds. This amount is less than 10% of the funds that would accrue to public and educational access if the PEG funds were split four ways. (There is a separate category in “PEG” that provides for metropolitan area networks, INET).

When the franchise was signed Comcast also paid $2Million dollars of the PEG payments up front. The money is paid back through a reduction in monthly PEG payments. There was also an unrestricted grant that could have funded PEG start-up operations that was appropriated for other purposes.

According to the representatives present on the August 10 meeting of the Contra Costa Cable Consortium there is very little money available and that much of it has been spent. Some there made it perfectly clear that their cities did not support or want public and educational access television.

What happened to two million plus dollars? Are we cooked?

Friends, Access Contra Costa needs your help. We are small and socially powerless. Yet we offer the skill and expertise to create a valuable community service that empowers those of us who yearn to communicate with our neighbors.

No comments:

Post a Comment