Media, Arts, & Society | September 30, 2005
Douglas Drenkow, Editor of "Progressive
Frequent Guest & Occasional Guest-Host/Producer on
with Barry Gordon", on Pasadena
Posted in "Comments
From Left Field" &
stands for "Public, Educational, and Governmental" TV --
Community Access Television -- and that stands for us all!
like just about anything else even slightly "progressive"
these days -- and there is nothing more progressive, or
quintessentially American, than giving everyday citizens access to
television, arguably the most powerful means of communication ever devised -- Community
Access TV is under attack, its very existence now
threatened by powerful interests in the nearly
trillion-dollar-a-year telecommunications industry.
But PEG has an ally
even more powerful
than the most multi-national of corporations: The public at large.
let 'em fool you: The real power over
the airwaves ultimately lies not with the media moguls, as they'd
have us believe, but with us in the public at large. Nobody can sell
us a nickel's worth of goods,
or a TV program advertising them, unless we let them. We're not just sheep to be
led, all too often to the slaughter; we're human beings who can
think and do much as we please.
only way the powers-that-be can impose their will upon the rest of
us is with raw, brute force (and thank God that for most of us
that has yet to happen) or with brutally effective psychological
that, of course, is where the mass media comes in. The most
important commodity in the 21st Century -- the
thing that can set our minds (and thus the rest of us) free, or
enslave us if we don't pay enough attention -- is information.
information has always been key to the advancement of our most
intelligent of species, this has truly become the Information Age,
not only because of our incredible technology but also because,
freed by that technology, countless ideas are associating with
countless other ideas from around the world and creating still
other ideas, in an explosion, an orgy, a blossoming of
unpredictably diverse, wonderfully human thought, feeling, and
And that's why the future of Community Access TV --
giving face and voice to the creative minds and
spirits of truly individual individuals and communities, as does
the Internet (into which CAT productions are often webstreamed) -- is more important than ever to safeguard and nurture.
we really want to live in a world without Community Access TV, of
"one size fits all" television?
doubt we do. Surveys
have shown that half of the subscribers to cable TV have
watched at least one community access program in the previous two
weeks: That's tens of millions of viewers, week after week. For
some of us, the admittedly low-budget productions are something of
a "guilty pleasure" -- the shows will never have the
technical sophistication of a network production -- then again, no
network "reality show" will ever have the reality and
humanity, warts and all, of a truly homegrown production on
Community Access TV.
three -- count 'em, three -- bills in the Congress threaten to put
an end to this contemporary form of grassroots democracy. Backed
by the powerful telecommunications lobby, which has donated
millions to politicians of both major parties, House Bill 3146 and
Senate Bills 1349 and 1504 (the latter, most famous, sponsored by
John McCain and John Ensign), would streamline negotiations and
lower operating costs for the telecom industry by abolishing cable
franchises with individual municipalities all across the nation.
results would include not only cutting off financial support and
access to the cable television system for PEG programs -- produced
freely by members of the public, educational institutions, and
local bodies of government -- as well as I-net communications --
between local institutions (as for emergency services!) -- but
also most likely infringing on local governments' rights of way
(that which the taxpayers provide and the cable companies pay now
to use, in accordance with local regulations), allowing large
areas to go without cable service, and allowing
"redlining" or other forms of discrimination -- service
could be denied based on such factors as race, ethnicity, or sex.
more thorough analyses of these terribly flawed bills, now working
their ways through Congressional committees, read here,
here, and especially here.
you will find in each of those excellent links sample letters with
which to contact your senators and congressional representative.
Don't let the only voices they hear be those of the well-paid
lobbyists of the telecom industry. Let your legislators know that
they must ultimately answer to the people!
them know that "one size does not fit all" when it comes
to community programming and to regulation of cable companies and
our rights of way in the wonderfully diverse towns and cities that
we call home. Let them know that public, educational, and
governmental TV -- Community Access TV -- provides real value to
our communities that cannot be replaced by any national
you may read in the links above, community access stations across
the country are coordinating their efforts to mobilize their
viewers and speak out with one voice: Save our Community Access
to help you help in this campaign -- to help you help your own
community -- at the bottom of this posting in OpEdNews.com
is an "action statement", a link that will take
you to an "action
page", in which you may quickly and easily send your
message of opposition to HR 3146, S 1349, and S 1504 -- your
message in support of local cable franchises and Community Access
TV -- simultaneously to your senators and representative and, if
you wish, your local newspaper (all identified for you by the
HR 3146, S 1349, & S 1504! Save Community Access TV!
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