Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Time to save Public Access TV -- again
by Larry Geller
Not only are there several bills in the Hawaii Legislature this session that would restrict the sunshine laws, but it seems the attack on public access television continues unabated with a bill that will shred the funding for public access.
Last month the City and County of Honolulu approved a franchise agreement with Oceanic Cable that reportedly will result in service cuts:
It was reported on Friday the 29th of January, in the Pacific Business News, that the new franchise agreement between the The City and County of Honolulu and Oceanic Time Warner Cable “will force more service cuts” for Olelo. Olelo is Oahu’s public access service provider. [akaku.org, The new Oceanic Time Warner Franchise contract will force more service cuts for Olelo. 2/1/2010]
At the state level, if HB2902 passes into law, the public’s access to TV channels and facilities for making programs to present will be shredded. The state will be diverting 2/3 of the support into the government sector.
Here is part of a statement circulated by long-time defender of public access TV and CEO of Akaku: Maui Community Television, Jay April:
Splitting the PEG [Public, Education, Government] money will effectively destroy successful PEG access on the neighbor islands by diverting 2/3 funds to the state sector which cannot and does not operate with the same mission: "Empowering our Community's Voice through Access to Media" The emphasis in the current model is on OUR COMMUNITY as in Community Access. Splitting the money is counter to the intent by which the resource was established in the first place. If HB2902 will severely diminish the public sector and weaken the other two sectors as well. One of the obvious reasons would be that splitting the money and resources would remove the advantage the integrated PEG model now has of economy of scale. A split model into three entities P, E and G will require triple duplication of administration, facilities, equipment, studios and staff. This make no economic or functional sense given the little amount of funding available to fund all these resources.
Conspiracy theorists may wonder if this is some insidious plot to reduce the public’s access to information while corporations run wild with unlimited “free speech” thanks to the Supreme Court. Ok, I wonder that myself.
It’s ridiculously easy to submit testimony on a bill from the Capitol website. If you would like to weigh in to help preserve public access TV from the clutches of those who would like to kill it, please send something in, preferably today.
The Legislature appears to be on a negative role for Hawai'i. They should expand Olelo's Budget. Testimony sent!
Thanks for sending in testimony and for the comment.
I hope others will also send something in. Or go down there, if you have the time.