|Pignatelli Wants Override of Regs Keeping State News Off Cable|
|04:13PM / Saturday, March 14, 2020|
LEE, Mass. — State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli is asking the state's congressional representatives to push for an emergency override that will bring Massachusetts news to the Berkshires as the state addresses the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The letter to U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal asks for an override or modification of the Federal Communication Commission's outdated regulations that place the farthest west county of Massachusetts in the New York Capital District's "Designated Market Area."
"Governor Baker declared a state of emergency earlier this week in response to the coronavirus. The most recent reports as of [Friday, have a] total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Commonwealth at 18," the 4th Berkshire representative states. "Further, there are 123 confirmed and presumptive positive cases to the virus, nine of which are confirmed to be in Berkshire County.
"Despite this, most communities in the Berkshires and throughout Western Massachusetts are still limited in their ability to access local Massachusetts news stations."
Markey was recently able to negotiate a limited return after three years of WWLP 22News in Springfield to the Berkshires' cable roster. WCVB Channel 5 Boston was removed in 2018.
Pignatelli thanks the congressmen for their continued support for expanding broadband but says more is needed to ensure the region can get critical news.
"Areas of Western Massachusetts are already suffering from a limited marker of providers in the region, the last thing these communities need is a lack of knowledge and access to the Commonwealth's ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19," he writes.
The Albany, N.Y., area stations sometimes cover the governor's visits to the Berkshires and WWLP and Spectrum do as well. However, coverage of press conferences from the Boston are spotty and often depend on which news station may be livestreaming the events.
"To put it simply: broadband equals opportunity. We cannot deny our citizens the ability to stay safe in times of crisis," Pignatelli writes.
Rep. Pignatelli Letter to FCC on Channel Access by iBerkshires.com on Scribd