Collins, Counties Working On “Orphan County” TV Issue

Officials from Stephens and surrounding counties meet with 9th District U.S. Representative Doug Collins on the issue of receiving Atlanta TV stations on satellite, instead of stations from South Carolina.

The recent meeting focused on the new process of petitioning the Federal Communications Commission 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 rule on the matter was finalized in February 2016.

Congressman Collins said that like many rural areas, the Ninth District of Georgia has counties bordering another state that are in the other state’s media market instead of their own, and therefore unable to access local programming.

Counties in that situation, like Stephens, Franklin, Hart, and Elbert counties, are known as “orphan counties.”

Collins said that in times of need, programming from South Carolina doesn’t do much good for those counties, adding that Georgia residents need Georgia channels.

Stephens County Commissioner Debbie Whitlock attended the meeting with Collins on the matter.

She said it went well, but adds she is not sure if just getting Stephens County into the Atlanta TV market instead of South Carolina will solve the problem.

“If Atlanta isn’t going to include us in the weather, in these different things, then … it still does not really address our county and any issues we have going on here,” said Whitlock.

Whitlock said that they are going to continue to monitor the situation and she adds that she supports giving people a choice.

“I would like to be able to hear Atlanta news and our Georgia news,” said Whitlock.

Collins said that Stephens, Franklin, Hart, and Elbert counties must continue to prepare their market modification petitions and he will continue to work alongside them to make the strongest case possible for their petition.

The Hall County congressman went on to say that this problem is not limited to Georgia so he has helped to form 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.