66-357. Availability and use of PEG channels.

(a) Application. - This section applies to a person who provides cable service under a State-issued franchise. It does not apply to a person who provides cable service under an existing agreement.

(b) Local Request. - A county or city must make a written request to a cable service provider for PEG channel capacity. The request must include a statement describing the county's or city's plan to operate and program each channel requested. The cable service provider must provide the requested PEG channel capacity within the later of the following:

(1) 120 days after the cable service provider receives the written request.

(2) 30 days after any interconnection requested under G.S. 66-358(a)(1) is accomplished.

(c) Initial PEG Channels. - A city with a population of at least 50,000 is allowed a minimum of three initial PEG channels plus any channels in excess of this minimum that are activated, as of July 1, 2006, under the terms of an existing franchise agreement whose franchise area includes the city. A city with a population of less than 50,000 is allowed a minimum of two initial PEG channels plus any channels in excess of this minimum that are activated, as of July 1, 2006, under the terms of an existing franchise agreement whose franchise area includes the city. For a city included in the franchise area of an existing agreement, the agreement determines the service tier placement and transmission quality of the initial PEG channels. For a city that is not included in the franchise area of an existing agreement, the initial PEG channels must be on a basic service tier, and the transmission quality of the channels must be equivalent to those of the closest city covered by an existing agreement.

A county is allowed a minimum of two initial PEG channels plus any channels in excess of this minimum that are activated, as of July 1, 2006, under the terms of an existing franchise agreement whose franchise area includes the county. For a county included in the franchise area of an existing agreement, the agreement determines the service tier placement and transmission quality of the initial PEG channels. For a county that is not included in the franchise area of an existing agreement, the initial PEG channels must be on a basic service tier and the transmission quality of the channels must be equivalent to those of any city with PEG channels in the county.

The cable service provider must maintain the same channel designation for a PEG channel unless the service area of the State-issued franchise includes PEG channels that are operated by different counties or cities and those PEG channels have the same channel designation. Each county and city whose PEG channels are served by the same cable system headend must cooperate with each other and with the cable system provider in sharing the capacity needed to provide the PEG channels.

(d) Additional PEG Channels. - A county or city that does not have seven PEG channels, including the initial PEG channels, is eligible for an additional PEG channel if it meets the programming requirements in this subsection. A county or city that has seven PEG channels is not eligible for an additional channel.

A county or city that meets the programming requirements in this subsection may make a written request under subsection (b) of this section for an additional channel. The additional channel may be provided on any service tier. The transmission quality of the additional channel must be at least equivalent to the transmission quality of the other channels provided.

The PEG channels operated by a county or city must meet the following programming requirements for at least 120 continuous days in order for the county or city to obtain an additional channel:

(1) All of the PEG channels must have scheduled programming for at least eight hours a day.

(2) The programming content of each of the PEG channels must not repeat more than fifteen percent (15%) of the programming content on any of the other PEG channels.

(3) No more than fifteen percent (15%) of the programming content on any of the PEG channels may be character-generated programming.

(e) Use of Channels. - If a county or city no longer provides any programming for transmission over a PEG channel it has activated, the channel may be reprogrammed at the cable service provider's discretion. A cable service provider must give at least a 60-day notice to a county or city before it reprograms a PEG channel that is not used. The cable service provider must restore a previously lost PEG channel within 120 days of the date a county or city certifies to the provider a schedule that demonstrates the channel will be used.

(f) Operation of Channels. - A cable service provider is responsible only for the transmission of a PEG channel. The county or city to which the PEG channel is provided is responsible for the operation and content of the channel. A county or city that provides content to a cable service provider for transmission on a PEG channel is considered to have authorized the provider to transmit the content throughout the provider's service area, regardless of whether part of the service area is outside the boundaries of the county or city.

All programming on a PEG channel must be noncommercial. A cable service provider may not brand content on a PEG channel with its logo, name, or other identifying marks. A cable service provider is not required to transmit content on a PEG channel that is branded with the logo, name, or other identifying marks of another cable service provider.

(g) Compliance. - A county or city that has not received PEG channel capacity as required by this section may bring an action to compel a cable service provider to comply with this section. (2006-151, s. 1.)