Late Fri, Michigan’s city of Dearborn and Meridian Township sued Comcast over its plan to require subs to obtain a set-top to view PEG channels. A federal judge said she would decide by midnight Mon (1/14) whether to halt the MSO’s plans, which are scheduled to take effect Tues. As of press time, there was no word of a decision. The issue drew the attention last month of House Commerce chmn John Dingell ( Cfax , 12/26), with the House Commerce Telecom Subcommittee slated to hold a hearing on the issue Jan 29 at 1pm. Other cable ops have implemented similar plans, with Bright House moving Tampa’s PEG channels to 100+ spots last year and requiring subs to pay $1/month for a box to view them. “Your intent to charge consumers as much as an additional $4.20 a month per television set to receive PEG channels is plainly inconsistent with Congressional intent that PEG channels be made available ‘at the lowest reasonable rate’,” Dingell wrote in a letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts late last month. Comcast plans to offer the boxes free for 1 year for 1 TV, but additional TVs would need to lease a box. Comcast responded to Dingell last week, saying that more than half of its MI subs already have digital service. The MSO also noted that the channels will remain on the basic service tier, thus customers won’t have to take a higher level of service. “To compete effectively with DBS and with phone companies entering the business in MI, it is only fair that we have somewhat of a level playing field,” Comcast wrote, noting that DBS has no PEG programming obligations and that AT&T “in most instances” provides no PEG programming. “We are proud of our PEG commitments and have no desire to cut back on them. But we must expedite the return of analog spectrum…”

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