|Whenever I travel I tune into Public Access television |
to learn the culture of the community.
In our country free speech and media access are integral parts of our perfect union. So valued, they are protected in our Constitution - the highest statute of the land. It makes sense for a strong community like ours to have high-quality Public, Educational & Government access PEG television stations on the air, available and accountable to the public, because Nashville is a well-run city and well-run cities maximize resources and talent.
This week I helped promote ours: Government access/Metro 3 and the NECAT network/combined arts, education and community access channels. Metro 3 operates within Metro government's IT department. The other three are directed by an appointed board. Metro's Cable Access Television (CATV) special committee held a public hearing to assess the city's need and desire for operating a PEG studio and Comcast channels 3, 9. 10 & 19 since they come to us by way of our joint franchise agreement.
Since Comcast uses our public right of way to conduct business, it provides consideration of several types: broadband width, connectivity, cash and channels. That deal is renewed every decade or so. The CATV special committee negotiates that deal at public's interest's charge. They are mayoral appointees, too. The city supports PEG TV operating costs that it's sponsors do not. Comcast contributes to capital expenses like technological upgrade currently with $100,000 annually absorbed into the city's coffers and left for admin to direct and fund competing budgets.
I joined local producers, PEG staff (all two of them) and other viewers to give testimony to our love for PEG. No lobbyists, government affairs veepees or concerned columnists were evident. Metro IT & Law were. I hope it helped.
PEG provides a place to build a public soapbox, distribute information, or fill an unmet community educational or entertainment need. Local journos have a handle on its value. I'm not so sure Nashville's stellar medical, non-profit, political or academic institutions do. If they did they'd be grabbing up the $75 hour prime time placement, airing outreach messages, promoting local learning, B2B training, best practices and original programming to give visitors a glimpse of what we have to offer and citizens a place where learning is free.
Sure you can argue nothing's free. And I will stand firm behind the value of public access television. In an age when media pundits are also candidates, paid by corporations regulated by government, it is only fair that Comcast give the community access to four channels as part of the price of laying cable, managing a business that runs through our front yards.
Years ago, I was a production volunteer at WDCN-Channel 8. I ran camera and chyron for Action Auction and membership drives. I only quit as my family grew. Then, I created Parent Talk, a local weekly radio show and interviewed experts on family-related issues and took call-ins. I kept that sponsored and aired for four years. Now I plan to become a producer, promote civic engagement and examine issues on NECAT. With such a grassroots tool at hand (and an undergrad degree in radio-tv-film) I am itching to take up a new opportunity. Programs are already in development. Stay tuned.