Collins urges FCC to expedite Orphan County appeal decision

9th District U.S. Representative Doug Collins has sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to express his support for the satellite market modification petitions submitted by Franklin, Hart, Stephens, and Elbert counties and to urge the Media Bureau to work with stakeholders to expedite the appeal process for three of the four counties.

In the letter sent to the FCC Tuesday Collins wrote, “I am encouraged that the Media Bureau has approved the petitions submitted by all four counties.”

Collins continued, “With these three counties still in need of a final decision, I encourage the Media Bureau to work with all affected stakeholders to quickly complete consideration of their satellite market modification petitions.”

No appeal was filed after the FCC’S approval of the Elbert County petition, which means the county is now ready to receive broadcasting from Atlanta-based stations pending successful negotiation between the broadcasters and satellite companies.

Monday evening, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners signed a joint letter to the FCC asking them to make a quick ruling on the Greenville/Asheville appeal, which was submitted to the Commission last year.

Franklin County Manager Beth Thomas has been spearheading the effort on behalf of the four counties for the past several years.

Thomas told the Board of Commissioners at their work session last week that all four counties have been approved to be moved to the metro Atlanta TV market, but t he FCC’S delay in making a ruling on the Carolina TV market appeal is holding that market modification up.

“We are now at the point where all four counties are at the same spot, and I have drafted a letter and each one of the four counties are taking it under consideration to issue a joint letter to the FCC to urge them, ‘We’re all in the same boat. We’re all in the same status. Please review our cases jointly and uphold the market modification that they’ve already granted us.’ It’s ours. We’re just in a holding pattern while it goes through the appeal,” she explained.

Commission Chair Thomas Bridges noted satellite TV customers in the four counties are being deprived of the benefit of getting news and sports from their own state.

“We’ve been working on this situation for years. It’s a long time to keep from getting service from Atlanta stations. It’s not fair for us to not have access to news, sports, and election campaigns that take place in Georgia. It’s time for us to be treated like Georgia citizens in Franklin County,” he said.

A copy of the letter has been sent to Stephens, Hart, and Elbert counties for their signatures.

Once all have signed, Thomas will send the letter to the FCC.

Collins’ full letter can be read here.