Local public access stations fear that a potential new Federal Communications Commission rule will allow cable companies to obliterate their operating funds.

Public, educational, and government access stations are mostly funded through franchise fees that cable subscribers pay in their monthly bill. Communities negotiate those fees, typically every 10 years. 

The iBerkshires.com reports the county has four local access stations: Northern Berkshire Community Television, WilliNet in Williamstown, Pittsfield Community Television and Community Television for the Southern Berkshires.

But now, a proposal in front of the FCC would allow cable companies to charge "in-kind" services to those fees. Local stations don't know exactly what those in-kind fees charged against their funding will be, but see an easy path through which cable companies could gut their operating funds.

Local access stations are already fresh off a battle with local cable company Spectrum after it switched the channel numbers from low digits to in the 1300s.

North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard wrote to the FCC about the importance local public access stations have to the civic well-being of the community.

"In particular, live and recorded coverage of North Adams City Council meetings and other public events provides residents with a direct connection to information, issues, and concerns that directly affect their lives. y," he said.

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