PEG stands for "Public, Educational and Governmental" Access Cable Channels.
FCC Fact Sheet, November 1994
Under Section 611 of the Communications Act, local franchising authorities may require cable operators to set aside channels for public, educational or governmental (PEG) use.
Educational access channels are used by educational institutions for educational programming. Time on these channels is typically allocated by either the franchising authority or the cable operator among local schools, colleges and universities.
Governmental access channels are used for programming by organizations of local government. In most jurisdictions, the franchising authority directly controls these channels.
PEG channels are not mandated by federal law, rather they are a right given to the franchising authority, which it may choose to exercise. The decision to require the cable operator to carry PEG channels is up to the local franchising authority. If the franchising authority does require PEG channels, that requirement will be set out in the franchise agreement between the franchising authority and the cable operator.
Franchising authorities may also require cable operators to set aside channels for educational or governmental use on institutional networks; i.e., channels that are generally available only to institutions such as schools, libraries or government offices.
Franchising authorities may require cable operators to provide services, facilities or equipment for the use of PEG channels.
In accordance with applicable franchise agreements, local franchising authorities or cable operators may adopt on their own, non-content-based rules governing the use of PEG channels. For example: Rules may be adopted for allocating time among competing applicants on a reasonable basis other than the content of their programming. Minimum production standards may be required.
Users may be required to undergo training. With limited exceptions, cable operators may not control the content of programming on PEG channels. A franchise agreement may specify that obscene or otherwise constitutionally unprotected material may not be shown or may be shown only subject to conditions.
Franchising authorities and other governmental entities are not limited in their exercise of editorial control over governmental access channels.
A cable operator may be subject to civil and criminal liability for permitting obscene material to be aired over the cable system.
The 1992 Cable Act also specifies that a cable operator may prohibit the use of a PEG channel for programming which contains obscene material, sexually explicit conduct or material soliciting or promoting unlawful conduct. However, the Commission's regulations implementing these "indecency" rules have been held to be unconstitutional, and are therefore not presently effective.
PEG channel capacity which is not in use for its designated purpose may, with the franchising authority's permission, be used by the cable operator to provide other cable services. Franchising authorities are directed by federal law to prescribe rules governing when such use is permitted.