Feed TV

If you were to create a map of all public-access TV channels in the United States, shaded green to burnt orange to signify funding and longevity, the South would look like the Sahara desert.

Acknowledging this geographical reality is critical to understanding the crossroads Asheville's public-access channel now faces, and what we can do to save this oasis for local voices and digital-media training.

Unfortunately, Nelda Holder's well-meaning commentary ["We Are Not TV," June 23 Xpress] missed this reality. By comparing our struggle for public-access TV with the success of Middlebury (Vt.) Community TV, where she once worked, Holder gives a fatalistic view of what she calls our collective "failure to create true community television."

She’s correct that some key local "officials and administrators seemed leery of creating a television channel open to people of any and all persuasions."

And she’s on the mark in citing vocal opponents such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton, who channeled some residents’ fears that "all manner of vile material, including outright pornography, would enter their homes."

But comparing Asheville's experience to Middlebury's is misguided. Asheville's population is nine times greater (72,000 vs. 8,000). Middlebury is more homogeneous and affluent: 97.5 percent white, median household income $56,529 for Addison County, versus 90.7 percent white and $44,576 for Buncombe County.

Another major difference is the legal and cultural environment in which these public channels exist. Unpacking these differences reveals why Vermont, with just over 600,000 residents, has 23 communities with public-access channels, while North Carolina, with more than 9 million residents, has only six.

For more than 30 years, Vermont has required cable companies to provide public, education and government channels "upon request" by a municipality. And the state’s Public Service Board must ensure "adequate channel capacity and appropriate facilities” as well as "a reasonably broad range of public, educational and governmental programming."

Vermont’s law has teeth: The board can levy stiff fines on cable companies that try to skirt the law. In short, all the heavy lifting of negotiating cable-franchise renewals is done at the state level, freeing local communities to focus on the details of building, operating and supporting PEG channels.

Here in North Carolina, we've never had that luxury. Instead, we’ve had to make the case that PEG channels are indeed a public good. This, plus the wariness of local officials, helps explain why the South has been a barren landscape for public access for more than 50 years.

This regional disparity has been very profitable for cable companies doing business here. While other states and regions routinely required companies to provide public services in exchange for a local monopoly, the South has been subject to a kind of high-tech carpetbagging.

Operating as "independent" consultants, former cable-TV employees swoop into town for franchise-renewal talks and to secure a few high-profile "concessions" from the cable company — but never pursue the full range of potential public benefits.

Should anyone ask about PEG channels, the consultants whisper "pornography" and "the Ku Klux Klan." Or they warn that it will cause rates to go up. Yet the seeds of doubt and suspicion they sow find fertile ground in the South, where longtime power brokers often feel threatened by more recent arrivistes who’ve seen the benefits of PEG channels elsewhere.

In July 2001, then Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair Nathan Ramsey put the brakes on a staff-negotiated renewal with Charter after comparing it to a more robust contract recently negotiated by Gilroy, Calif., which had only a third of Buncombe’s 45,000 subscribers.

Ramsey and Commissioner David Gantt proposed a citizen task force to advise the county in its negotiations. But when commissioners appointed the task force, it was dominated by staff who opposed public access while supporting education and government channels. At one meeting, a county staffer flatly stated, "We don't want to put those Asheville hippies on TV."

As a result, the task force never seriously considered the more cost-effective option of bringing the PEG channels under one roof, which is how most successful operations (including Middlebury Community TV) are structured.

In a sense, Ms. Holder is correct in concluding that "URTV failed long ago." But it was doomed to fail by city and county officials who insisted that public access must stand alone.

Before writing an obituary, however, we should ask who stands to gain from the channel’s demise.

The surviving education and government channels might divvy up the funding previously allocated for public access. Or the money could go into the city’s and county's general funds, to be used “for any public purpose,” according to state law.

The 2006 video-franchise law itself also merits scrutiny. On June 15, county telecommunications consultant John Howell told the commissioners that the Legislature “threw PEG under the bus” when it passed the law, resulting in sharply reduced funding for public-access TV “for the foreseeable future.”

But Howell's math doesn't jibe with the actual wording, which requires local governments “to continue the same level of support for the PEG channels” that existed in 2006. Furthermore, Howell implied that video-franchise distributions to cities and counties are declining. In fact, they’ve grown steadily. According to the N.C. Department of Revenue, Asheville and Buncombe County received a combined $2.3 million in video-franchise revenue in 2007, $2.72 million in 2008 and $2.76 million last year (including both PEG funds and franchise fees).

The law also created an additional funding stream — the Supplemental PEG Fund — which should yield an additional $149,532 for the city’s and county's channels.

Clearly, Raleigh isn’t diverting financial support for public-access TV. But it does appear to be at risk from certain people in local government and their advisers. If public access dies on the vine, the root cause will be those folks here who never wanted it to begin with.

Asheville-based media-reform activist Wally Bowen is a lead advocate for local PEG channels and helped organize a statewide coalition to preserve PEG funding in the state video-franchise law.

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32 thoughts on “Feed TV

  1. UNaffiliated Voter

    community TV is NOT a function of our government. period.

    if its so good then privitize it…

  2. Barry Summers

    “And she’s on the mark in citing vocal opponents such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton…”

    I have read Ms. Holder’s commentary thrice now, and can find no mention of “Chad Nesbitt” or “Don Yelton”.

    http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2007/062310we_are_not_tv/

    Wally: What the hell are you up to? What’s your game here?

    Mountain Express: Have you not learned yet that if there is one person in this town who needs to have his facts checked with a fine-tooth comb, it’s Wally Bowen? Why would you print this commentary without even a cursory check of what he wrote?

    Minutiae aside: Unlike Nelda, Wally knows nil about what it takes to build community (case in point: WPVM). IMHO, he has and will continue to do more harm than good.

  3. i must say, wally makes some very good points here,that may help one get the big picture into focus..
    as far as (“And she’s on the mark in citing vocal opponents such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton, who channeled some residents’ fears that “all manner of vile material, including outright pornography, would enter their homes.””) goes,you could add urtv board member jerry young to that list..
    i know that the executive director of that corporation is keeping me from my first amendment right to speak my mind on urtv…

  4. Charles Magoffin

    Beg to differ Barry … If you want to get picky on ‘fact checking’ start with the Xpress reporting on URTV. Couldn’t get much worse! Wally did an excellent job of investigative and thoughtful commentary that the Xpress sorely lacks on this subject. It’s refreshing to hear someone bring context to the current problems with Buncombe county lack of support for public access. As I previously stated in a 7/13 Xpress letter (which they didn’t bother putting in the print version) the Q3 ’09 payment due to URTV was received 7/5/10 … now where’s the investigation into the counties ‘black hole’? How ’bout the $1.5M the county gets (separate from PEG) from charter because they can certify they offer public access channels … where does that money go … into another black hole? Where’s the investigative journalism?

    Sorry Barry, you’re barking up the wrong tree here. Why don’t we demand better journalism from the Xpress. Thanks Wally, appreciate your insights.

  5. Mr Bowen’s question of (“who benefits if public access fails?”) is the question of the day. He points out how the funding would most likely go into the general fund (good for them but bad for the community)……..but citizens will still be paying the .43 cents charged for the P in PEG. Decidedly the community will lose an under utilized asset that they paid big bucks for. (URTV cost about $500,000 to build out the facility) Bob Bowles and a a city appointed consultant oversaw the build out.

    I’ve come to the conclusion (along with others I’ve spoken to about this ongoing debacle), that the local power structure does not want a powerful medium like a tv station in the hands of the people. And they will be the beneficiaries, because the people will have lost their most powerful medium with which to dialog with fellow citizens. Don’t forget, City and County give a citizen only 3 minutes in the public comment section of their meetings. So the fiasco works for them, and I said so in a letter to Commissioner Gantt, back in early June. I ask him how we could come to any other conclusion given that our elected officials and paid staff have looked the other way when blatant problems and non compliance with the management agreement have been pointed out to them time and time again, by myself and other people who gave a damn. Through inaction they have enabled the problems and allowed them to fester. It’s disturbing to find out, that once a contract is signed with the City and County that the contracted entity doesn’t have to adhere to the terms in a contract, and the City nor County cares or bothers to enforce the terms of the contract. Shame on them.

    Bowen cites opponents like Nesbitt and Yelton, but fails to mention that Yelton has become on of public access strongest supporters. That is an example of the power of public access, it can change the mind of big & hard headed activist like Don Yelton. Not sure, but I believe Chad Nesbitt came around also.

    However, it’s very telling that one of the most vocal opponents who represents the Christian right, is now the county appointed Chairman of the currently inept board ….here is what he said back in 2004 ” “I understand that we live in a diverse community today. But why do we need to allow diversity that is foreign to us?” — Pastor Jerry Young, Trinity Baptist Church (Many thanks to whoever found this statement>)
    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/0519county.php/ One has to question if he has public access’ best interest at heart or the interests of the Christian right????? If they don’t question this, they should.

    Myself, along with other concerned citizens are on record at both the City Council meetings and County Commission meetings for them to at least consider combining with E or G or send out a request for proposals. Mr. Bowen’s suggestion for combining is in line with what other local interested parties think, too. I’ve made similar suggestions in a letter to the editor in June. http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2010/public-access_tv_dont_throw_the_baby_out_with_the_bathwater
    When the announcement came out from Jerry Young that urtv would shut down unless they got a massive infusion of cash, those of us who want to see a truly inclusive public access station rallied and contacted the City and County with suggestions of alternatives to shutting it down. Many felt that public access, like every other entity had to deal with the current conditions of the economy, and make do with what is $$$ are being funded. It can be done….it’s called “pull your self up by your bootstraps.” I suggest we have a town meeting and begin to look forward to the future of the publicly owned asset. Let the public see exactly where we’ve been and help decide where we can go, financially and creativity-wise.

  6. Barry Summers

    Sorry Barry, you’re barking up the wrong tree here. Why don’t we demand better journalism from the Xpress.

    Charles, I think we should demand better journalism from several quarters, starting with this commentary – Nelda Holder did not mention Chad or Don by name, but Wally gets to tell the world she did, and that’s OK with you? After several years of working closely with Wally, I can tell you this is the pattern: for every good-sounding thing Wally does or proposes, there’s something crappy under the table.

    It may seem like a small thing, but this is the perfect illustration of the difference between someone like Nelda, and someone like Wally: she may very well have been referring to Don and/or Chad in her commentary, but she had the grace and political savvy not to drag their names into it, but rather, stuck to the point that she was trying to make. Wally, on the other hand, comes along after the fact, and tells Mountain XPress readers that she did, in fact hang this on them personally, and he did it for his own purposes, unconcerned how it might affect Nelda. He is the opposite of a community-builder, and this sort of thing: honesty, consensus-building, trust, fairness; is just as crucial, if not more crucial, than funding issues when discussing URTV.

  7. Barry – Here is the paragraph in question that I originally submitted to Mountain Xpress:

    “And she is on the mark in citing vocal opponents – such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton – who channeled fears to local residents that ‘all manner of vile material, including outright pornography, would enter their homes.’”

    The paragraph was edited by an MX editor to read:

    “And she’s on the mark in citing vocal opponents such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton, who channeled some residents’ fears that ‘all manner of vile material, including outright pornography, would enter their homes.’”

    It is ultimately the writer’s responsibility to approve edits, and I did not catch the change in meaning after the paragraph was edited. As you noted, Nelda did not mention Chad and Don by name. It was not my intent to make it appear that she did.

    The commentary originally ran about 1500 words, so about a third of the text was edited out. A more complete version – including hyperlinks to key documentation – can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/24c3o5x

    Also, Nelda and others have correctly noted that the Internet is no substitute for a public access TV operation because the latter forces us to meet and interact face-to-face, regardless of our diverse ideologies and belief systems.

    In the process, we become a little more human to each other, rather than remaining abstract vessels for grudges we bear or ideas we oppose. That’s why these public spaces are so crucial to having a livable democracy.

    Otherwise we’re all just hunkered down behind our virtual barricades taking potshots at each other, and nothing of real value ever gets done.

    I had the privilege of debating both Chad (at Pack Library) and Don (on his leased-access TV show) when they opposed our community’s effort to launch public access TV. Despite our opposing views, our interactions were totally civil, which is kind of remarkable given the increasing public displays of antagonism that have become today’s norm.

    So I think it is to Chad and Don’s credit that they have come around to seeing the value of public access TV – not because we changed their minds – but no doubt because they experienced firsthand the sense of community and democracy-at-work that’s available in public access TV centers. That’s why I wanted to mention them by name.

    And that’s why it’s so important that we stop fighting among ourselves and get real about the underlying reasons that public access TV in our community has been on shaky ground from the git-go.

    wally

  8. Don Yelton

    Well Barry sounds like you understand Wally completely. The real questions is it public access because if it is there was a law suit in Florida when the commissioners cut funding. They had to continue to fund the station.

    Freedom of speech pemits me to say what I want and wally can too but the people have to decide who they believe.

    The truth of the matter is in my opinion is that Wally is mad because he is not the stud duck in the puddle. How and what happen to his radio station?

    Blackwell has if right Freedom of Speech is hard to practice and put up with. We need to come together if we want it to survive.

    No I do not like everything on the station. Frankly I guess some others do not like what I do. But, the big BUT is we still work together to keep the shows on the air.

    It will sorely be missed by all but the power brokers and on that I think we all agree. That is at least something good that can come out of this.

  9. ” The real questions is it public access because if it is there was a law suit in Florida when the commissioners cut funding. They had to continue to fund the station. “

    I think the level of interest is high enough here, that if funding is cut, a class action would be in order and do-able. Included would be a requirement that all people have access to the facility, not just the chosen few.

    BTW, Don really appreciate the good work you’ve been doing on CTS, for the past 10 or more years. You know I was kidding about that head size…though Herb says it really is one of the biggest he’s ever seen…and that includes decades of medical practicing….he wants to know what you’re storing in there. <;-)

  10. Secret Service

    Can we please stop witth the “let’s start over” crap? Public Access in Asheville and Buncombe County already has been built. Its working great; don’t take my word for it. Go there and judge for yourself.

    Early doubters and naysayers have been turned around by their experiences at URTV. Including Don Yelton, Harry Maroni, and yes, Jerry Young.

    Jerry Young has said numerous times that he fully supports Public Access. All his actions over the last three years are congruent with his statement of support.

    It is downright dishonest, Davyne, to imply that Jerry Young wants anything other than Public Access to succeed.

    http://wnccmc.org/blog/

    For it is not the old naysayers that have hurt URTV (Don Yelton, Harry Maroni, Jerry Young);

    It’s the NEW naysayers that are hurting it. (Richard Bernier, Davyne Dial, “Dr” Blackwell, Alan Rosenthal, Tim Peck)

    Public Access’s biggest problems stem from the lack of understanding in this community about what Public Access is and how it works. This includes City Coucil, County Commissioners, even former URTV Board members. (Nelda Holder, Sandra Bradbury, Mark Wilson, Peter Brezny, Richard Bernier and Davyne Dial)

    Throw in bruised egos and sour grapes folks whose “if i can’t have it can’t nobody have it,” attitude has manifested into an all out fear-and-smear campaign against the current Staff and Board, and you can start to understand why local officials might begin to think they can get away with not supporting it.

    There is no reason, I repeat, NO REASON to scrap what so many people have spent so many hours working to create. URTV is working, it is better than ever and has a lot to do with the professional Staff and their tireless efforts to clean up the mess left behind. For anyone who doubts this, I implore you to go to the Media Center and see for yourself.

    There are some in this very thread who have lobbied the local government to de-fund URTV until they get their way. “Not another dime!” was Davyne Dial, “Dr” Blackwell and Alan Rosenthal’s battle cry during contract renewal with Asheville City and again with the County these last several months.

    Now Dial floats the idea of a lawsuit against local government for doing what she asked for. Something tells me the sue-happy Dial may just sue until she gets Public Access for herself and her cronies.

    Never-the-less; To nearly everyone’s surprise, this community wants Public Access more than anticipated. Public Access is WORKING better than anyone expected.

    …now local officials may have to find a reason to ignore the working model and professional Staff of URTV; ignore the hundreds of people who use the facility and the thousands that love it. All paid for by the Cable Companies.

    How can one do this? What reason could they cite in order to justify killing something that people like AND that pays for itself?

    Davyne Dial, Richard Bernier, Alan Rosnethal, Tim Peck, David Forbes and the Mountain X may have given them all the reasons they need.

    Lastly, to change the culture of ignorance and fear regarding Public Access here in Buncombe County, it will take a major shift in how people here think. Because it comes down to a few crucial things:

    1) There are MANY people who have OPINIONS about how URTV should be run; but there are only a few with the necesary EXPERTISE.
    2) The people with the expertise are the ones running it now. (probably working late)
    3) The people with the opinions are still running thier mouths in these forums and not involved in URTV in any way, shape or form.

    Who should you trust? Who shoud get the benefit of the doubt? Who has taken URTV far beyond what the NEW naysayers said could be done?

    If the back-biting doesn’t stop and the bruised egos of a few continue, the officials will have all the “evidence” they need to suffocate what so many helped to build. And that’s no red herring.

  11. Karma is Hell!

    “And that’s why it’s so important that we stop fighting among ourselves and get real about the underlying reasons that public access TV in our community has been on shaky ground from the git-go.”

    Oh..really, Wally??? The ED in charge of our local public access used an overly zealous heavy hand in handling people and according to the recent audit non-compliance with OML and rudimentary statutes governing non -profits, has led to mistrust and discontent among members and constituents alike.” http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/buncombe_audit_urtv_didnt_misuse_funds_but_failed_to_follow_open_meetings_l

    Unlike the population of Houston or Austin this is a small town and word gets around fast. She came in with guns ablaze and alienated many useful people…now that all the dirty laundry is hung out to dry, y’all want to make nice?????

  12. Barry Summers

    Barry – Here is the paragraph in question that I originally submitted to Mountain Xpress:

    “And she is on the mark in citing vocal opponents – such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton – who channeled fears to local residents that ‘all manner of vile material, including outright pornography, would enter their homes.’”

    The paragraph was edited by an MX editor to read:

    “And she’s on the mark in citing vocal opponents such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton, who channeled some residents’ fears that ‘all manner of vile material, including outright pornography, would enter their homes.’”

    Wally, I think it’s hilarious that you hold this up as exoneration (MX removed my dashes), when the original wording you submitted is even worse than what MX actually printed.

    Edited version: “…such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton, who channeled some residents’ fears…”

    Your original version: “…– such as Chad Nesbitt and Don Yelton – who channeled fears to local residents…” (emphasis mine)

    You tried to imply that Nelda accused Chad and Don of being the sources of the fears, and not just the messengers. That’s an even worse misrepresentation of her commentary than what they printed. MX actually softened it for you. But here you reprint your original like it exonerates you, when in fact it’s the opposite.

    But nitpicking aside, Wally, what the hell are you really up to here?

  13. [url=http://www.newpublicmedia.org/principles]Building a Bigger Tent [/url]

    In local communities where commercial media are failing to provide quality public affairs and cultural programming, independent, noncommercial media are often the only outlets filling the void. They have deep connections to the community, are often volunteer-driven, and produce diverse, original content. As we work toward policy solutions that will strengthen and protect these entities, it is crucial that we also work to expand the definition of public media to include community radio, Low Power FM radio, public access TV, independent print publications, viewer-supported satellite TV and nonprofit Internet-based outlets. Collaboration among all of these outlets is key to public media’s future.
    http://www.newpublicmedia.org/principles

  14. To wrap up this thread with a bang… and why a truly democratic public access and independent media is important.

    [url=http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/video/video.php?v=159216125164&ref=mf] George Carlin’s final words to the world. [/url]

  15. Barry Summers

    George Carlin’s last words were: “You must log in to Facebook to see this page.”? That’s surprising, frankly.

  16. Sorry Barry, when I checked the link it went right to the page. Obviously I have cookies, that I wasn’t aware of. I searched on YouTube for the clip but the audio is disabled.

  17. I’d like to thank Mr. Skeered Anonymous for this gem:

    “3) The people with the opinions are still running thier mouths in these forums and not involved in URTV in any way, shape or form.”

    So, genius, why do you think they are not involved in any way?
    …………………

  18. Barry Summers

    Its working great; don’t take my word for it.

    Not a hard sell, considering you’re anonymous.

    And what’s up, Mr. or Ms. ‘Secret Service’, with making such pointed and critical comments on a subject like Public Access, while hiding behind a mask? For example, I would challenge you that Nelda Holder knows a lot more about community and Public Access than you do, but oops, I can’t because you’re anonymous. How does this help a discussion about building trust?

  19. “By comparing our struggle for public-access TV with the success of Middlebury (Vt.) Community TV, where she once worked, “

    Actually Ms. Holder RAN the public access station…..without even a hint of needless drama and controversy that has plagued our public access.
    http://www.mountainx.com/search/results/d4d0cb20bb7e7c35108235d742751892/

    “But comparing Asheville’s experience to Middlebury’s is misguided. Asheville’s population is nine times greater (72,000 vs. 8,000). Middlebury is more homogeneous and affluent: 97.5 percent white, median household income $56,529 for Addison County, versus 90.7 percent white and $44,576 for Buncombe County.”

    I don’t understand the comparison, because given Middlebury’s higher cost of living, the median income is most likely similar. Nor do I find it a valid argument that population-wise Middlebury is more homogeneously rich and therefore has an advantage. I’m certain we have at least 8000, or more in the income range Mr. Bowen suggest is a reason for Middlebury’s success. I find it interesting that their station is so successful, given the much lower population. It shows that people have pulled together to make this happen in their community. That 7% in white vs non white, in population and the difference in income is insignificant given the higher population of Buncombe and given the success of Middlebury.

    “As a result, the task force never seriously considered the more cost-effective option of bringing the PEG channels under one roof, which is how most successful operations (including Middlebury Community TV) are structured.”

    Here, we’re in agreement, I suspect this is the most successful route for the future. We just need to hit the officials over the head with a sledge hammer, to get them to understand that we want a well run inclusive and transparently managed public access facility. I’m on record (both written and on the meeting videos) at both City and County of suggesting this very solution. I’ve also suggested an oversight committee (made up of concerned and experienced folks who have been out of the loop of the ongoing controversies), to help our public access station get back into the good graces of the bulk of the community. When trust is lost, it is VERY difficult to regain.
    “Contrary to the May 2009 URTV Bylaws and expectations of both the County and City governments, URTV has failed to adequately understand and comply with open meeting law,” the report reads. “This is an issue the Board and management have grappled with since the organization’s inception and has led to mistrust and discontent among members and constituents alike. Closed sessions are allowable but only for certain circumstances. Budget and finance discussions are not acceptable closed session topics.”
    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/buncombe_audit_urtv_didnt_misuse_funds_but_failed_to_follow_open_meetings_l

    Finally, given Ms. Holder’s years of experience in managing a successful station and her URTV Board experiences, I’m tending toward trusting her commentary. To my knowledge, Mr. Bowen has not had any hands on experience in managing a public access station, so his words need to be taken with a grain of salt….especially in light of the many and well documented, WPVM debacles, where he appears to have a similar management style that has gotten URTV in trouble.
    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/123108thats_saying_a_lot/

    Middlebury’s public access station is close to 25 years old and growing..in my wildest dreams, our public access could evolve into that same direction.
    http://middleburycommunitytv.org/

    Any rebuttals to this post will not be responded to by me, unless the person making a comment uses their true identity.

  20. D. Dial wrote: “I don’t understand the comparison, because given Middlebury’s higher cost of living, the median income is most likely similar. Nor do I find it a valid argument that population-wise Middlebury is more homogeneously rich and therefore has an advantage. I’m certain we have at least 8000, or more in the income range Mr. Bowen suggest is a reason for Middlebury’s success. I find it interesting that their station is so successful, given the much lower population. It shows that people have pulled together to make this happen in their community. That 7% in white vs non white, in population and the difference in income is insignificant given the higher population of Buncombe and given the success of Middlebury.”

    Again, comparing Middlebury’s access operation to Asheville’s is unfair because it ignores the former’s advantage in that “all the heavy lifting of negotiating cable-franchise renewals is done at the state level . . . .”

    Middlebury’s access advocates never had to prove that public access was a “public good” because state law had already established that proof. As a result, there was no opening for a cable-friendly consultant or other access opponents to exploit local divisions and prejudices in order to discredit and undermine public access.

    Finally, the relative competencies of public access TV managers were not the subject of my commentary. Anyone trying to shoe-horn those issues or personalities into this discussion is either ignoring or missing the point.

  21. Secret Service

    An important point to consider:

    BCTV, Buncombe County’s Government channel, has an annual budget of $241,000. Yet they claim they receive the same PEG money given to URTV, equaling $20,000 for 2011.

    That means they subsidize THEIR channel with $220,000 a year. Where does that money come from? Is it from the $1.5 million in Cable Franchise fees they collect every year? Or are they using actual taxpayer money to subsidize that funding gap?

    It is quite clear that BCTV cannot function on the PEG money alone, and must subsidize itself; yet certain folks demand the management of URTV to operate on the measly $20,000 alone. This is a clear double-standard.

    It is perfectly reasonable to ask that Buncombe County provide the same subsidy to URTV that they provide for themselves. It should come out of the $1.5 million Cable Franchise fees (collected from Cable/Satellite Companies) and not the pockets of the citizens of this county.

    Buncombe County government can keep the other $1.3 million and everybody wins.

    Perhaps the Xpress can focus on this issue and shed some light on the real situation URTV faces: double-standards and a serious lack of support from our current community leaders.

  22. Illuminatti

    “Perhaps the Xpress can focus on this issue and shed some light on the real situation URTV faces: double-standards and a serious lack of support from our current community leaders.’

    URTV has been all over the board on their financial “crisis.” First they announce that they’ll shut down in September, if they don’t some extra funds. They need an additional $200,000 to operate. Then they get $48,000 from Wanda Greene. And they announce that they “found” $100,000 and can stay open another year. Now secret service is saying they are only getting $20,000. hhhmmmmmmm? Wonder what the “real ” story is.

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/072110channel_vision

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/urtv_will_cease_operation_in_september

  23. Secret Service

    “Join together & keep both going under one roof.
    Public access could remain.
    ? RB”

    Absolutely! I think the folks at URTV could EASILY run the County’s bulletin board channel and get their funding. What a great idea!

  24. Article after afticle regarding URTV is negative propaganda by a few people trying to get their 15 minutes of fame. Enough is enough already.

    Why is their no focus on the programs and the producers themselves. To see what drives independent people to produce media for public consumption. What and how many different Community events are recorded and shown for those who could not attend? How many educational programs have taught you things that you did not know? How many people have laughed with and at the TV shows?

    It is sad that Mountain Xpress has not taken a better journalistic approach to behind the scenes. Maybe it is time they started to. It would be nice to just get along for a change.

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