Will They Live On?
by Pete Fasciano, Executive Director 03/05/2023
“Will they live on?” This was a key, forward-looking question posed by Councilor Deborah Pellegri at Wednesday’s recent Town Council meeting. It’s the right opening question – being asked at the local, state and federal levels of government with some slowly increasing concern over the long-term future of PEG TV studios.
Cord cutting (dropping cable service) has continued apace. Fewer cable subscribers mean less financial support for local access TV studios. How indeed does this play out over time? The answer is convoluted. All regulation to date has been set at the federal level via Congress and the FCC. Thus, there is the willingness of any future Administration, House and Senate to enact new legislation – or not.
I anticipate that if we are indeed adding real value to our respective communities, then concerns and actions at the local municipal level will influence bellwether states to act, and in turn perhaps spur ultimate (and hopefully positive) action by Congress. There are some early hints at what might transpire.
In 2015 the City of Chicago levied an Amusement Tax on Internet entertainment services (Netflix, Apple TV, etc.).
After four years of litigation, Netflix quietly surrendered in 2022 in the dispute over its duties under Amusement Tax Ruling No. 5, referred to as the “Netflix tax.” The program imposes a 9% levy on streaming music, video and gaming services.
Apple Inc. also began collecting Chicago’s tax on streaming entertainment services on Sept. 15, 2022, ending their legal challenge that this first-of-its-kind municipal tax violates the US Constitution and the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act.
In Massachusetts similar proposed legislation is being considered. It would provide some revenue to the state, to municipalities, and ultimately, to local access studios.
How? How much? When? A final disposition will come in the fullness of time. To learn more: https://www.franklin.tv/peginanutshell.pdf
And – as always – thanks for watching.