Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Doug Collins met with officials from Elbert, Hart, Franklin, and Stephens Counties to discuss the lack of local television programming available to residents of these counties. The meeting focused on the new process of petitioning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a ‘Change of Market’, something Congressman Collins has pushed to be made into law since he was elected to office in 2012. The complete FCC and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) rule was finalized in February 2016.
Congressman Collins also announced the formation of the Congressional Orphan Counties Caucus, which will bring together Members of Congress who face similar challenges in their home districts and provide a forum to educate Members who are not aware of this issue. Additionally, there was a discussion on what can be done at the federal level to ensure residents of these counties have access to local news, weather, and other information pertinent to where they live.
Congressman Collins issued the following statement after the meeting:
“Like many rural areas, the Ninth District of Georgia has counties bordering another state that are in that state’s media market, and therefore unable to access local programming. This means that residents of those areas miss out on local weather, news, events, and public discourse. It comes down to an issue of public safety – for example, severe weather warnings. During these times, programming from way up in South Carolina doesn’t do our folks much good. Georgia residents need Georgia channels.”
“This problem unfortunately is not unique to Georgia, which is why I am establishing the Congressional Orphan Counties Caucus to bring together Members of Congress who also have this issue in their districts, so we can look at solutions. We hope to bring more attention to this problem as a group, and better serve our constituents.”
“The antiquated Designated Marketing Area (DMA) system has failed Northeast Georgians. I’m proud of the progress my colleagues and I have made to finally give local governments a say in their broadcasting market. But it’s one solution, not the only solution. Elbert, Hart, Franklin, and Stephens Counties must continue to prepare their market modification petition. And I will continue to work alongside them to make the strongest case possible for their petition. But I want the FCC to know, without a doubt, that if they fail to grant these petitions, the fight isn’t over. I look forward to working with county officials to move this along as quickly as possible.”