FREE PRESS — L.A. Weekly reports that if everything unfolds as planned, on January 1, Time Warner, which owns more than 90 percent of the cable-television market in Los Angeles, will walk away from operating 12 public-access studios in L.A, which help everyday people to create hundreds of hours of content on 11 freewheeling, neighborhood-based public channels.
Villaraigosas bureaucrats have produced a 19-page position paper that obliterates all talk of community-wide impact and is far more interested in detailing how City Hall can benefit from the demise of public access. Sources tell L.A.Weekly that plans were squelched, internally, for producing a 60-page City Hall report addressing the potential negative impact on dozens of citizen-produced shows like Etopia News, the Stanley Dyrector Show, Soul & Sound of Watts, Politics Matter, Knowledge Is Power, the Johnny Jay Show, Community Wrap-up, East L.A. After Dark, Catch the Vision, Neighborhood Point of View and All My Relations Television. In L.A., the PEG community Public, Education and Government channels will emerge as EG.
As an update today notes, Leslie Dutton's Full Disclosure Web site reports that veteran free speech advocate and L.A. political powerbroker Stanley Sheinbaum has written a letter to California Attorney General Jerry Brown, asking the AG to intervene to prevent the plug being pulled.
UPDATE: As noted in the comment by Kimo Crossman, San Francisco and all other cable TV cities face the loss of public access channels as well. The immediate threat in San Francisco is a budget cut, according to Access SF.
The reason for the cut is due to the passage of the new state-wide cable franchising law called DIVCA, which ends local cable franchises and eliminates the requirement that cable operators provide operations funding to cities to fund public access.
The Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) of the City and County of San Francisco (the City department that manages and funds access) wants to redefine access in a way that access can operate with limited or no funding.
Redefining public access may mean loss of training opportunities and greatly reduced or no access to facilities.
San Francisco is having trouble with this too:
Public Access will be going the way of the Edsel at end of this year. How sad. Everytime I enter a Time-Warner Studio of late, I sense the doom and gloom of Staff. My show, “The Stanley Dyrector Show”, has been on public access for over 15 years and has used the studios. Their closure will ring down the curtain of a golden era, unfortunately depriving artists’ craftspersons’ young and old alike from having an opportunity to produce, create and host their own vision. I’ve said it before and it is worth saying again – for shame on those who have been so callous and shortsighted to pull the plug on what has become a Great American Expression of the Great American Way. P.A. Don’t rest in peace. Just remember the great phrase of early American Democracy – DON’T TREAD ON ME!
It is important to note that the DIVCA legislation enacted in 2007, provides for the Cable Franichise Fees to continue to flow to the Cities. In Los Angeles that is estimated at $25 million. With DIVCA now shifting the responsibilities for providing the public access studio/channel system to the Cities, there is an additional and additioal 2% or $5 million to be made available for such a purpose. The City of Los Angeles has approved an option that does not provide for even a single designated channel for public access. With the loss of 14 public access studios and channels this December 31st, the City’s intent becomes clear, the fees paid by the cable subscribers in their monthly bills will go to the general fund and not for public access, thus silencing the public.