WNC Community Media is not URTV — we are

I was a producer at URTV for a year, for the show A Question of Meaning. I greatly valued the opportunity to broadcast ideas to the Asheville area. It fast became clear that URTV was in trouble, and that a lot of the trouble had to do with the director. I haven’t said anything publicly before now because I felt the future of public access television in Asheville depended on the complete demise of WNC Community Media Center, the nonprofit group that ran URTV.

From my experience, WNCCMC was hobbled by (among other things) a culture of secrecy, which extended to the producers. We were told we weren’t qualified to know any details about what was going on, right up to the day we were told the nonprofit was shutting down.

I was dismayed by the confusion that Mr. Bowen described in his article, “Out of Service,” in the May 25 Xpress: the mistaken belief that WNCCMC is public access. WNCCMC was a private organization given a contract to administer Buncombe County’s public access channel. They have failed in that task, and Asheville City Council has indicated that they want to hear proposals for a new group to take over the channel.

Mr. Bowen refers his readers to Wikipedia to learn about public access; it seems simple enough to me: cable television uses the public right-of-way for its transmission cables. The right-of-way belongs to all of us. Our local government, acting as our agent, lets certain companies use this public property and demands responsibilities in return. One of these is payment of fees/taxes to the government; another is the provision of a public access channel. Public access television is not freedom of speech as some supporters of URTV have erroneously claimed; it is the people claiming one channel for ourselves as part of the price for the cable companies’ existence.

Charter and AT&T don’t have a choice about this. The only question is whether Asheville, as a community, cares enough to pick ourselves up from the ashes of the WNCCMC debacle and keep public access alive.

— Kathleen Brugger
Asheville

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8 thoughts on “WNC Community Media is not URTV — we are

  1. If only the many who knew that URTV /public access was in serious trouble had come forward much earlier….if nothing else, maybe some funds would have bee salvaged to help with a start over.

    But the fact is the officials who failed enforce terms of the contract, were derelict. The BOD who hired the ED, and knew shortly after that they had made a grave error were irresponsible to the community. Instead of admitting and correcting their mistakes, they skulked away in what appears to be an inability to clean up their mess. Then finally the most outspoken individual against public access from the get-go worked his way into becoming the Board Chairman and holds final responsibility for it’s demise.

    Those few of us who did speak out were slandered, demonized and vilified relentlessly. Finally the truth has come out, (as it almost always does.) The public has spoken….what URTV had devolved into is of no interest in this community

    The shame is there was and is so much that this community had to offer that was either run off, or discouraged from participating. I hope any future endeavors focuses on our diverse assets, is all inclusive and appreciative of what our community has to offer.

  2. thank you Kathleen Brugger..
    it is good to see people come forward,and acknowledge
    the need for the complete demise of WNC Community Media Center.. that demise has now come,and now is the time to put public access back together..
    i would ask all of you who have remained silent,to join with those of us who have been fighting for some years now,as some of us are about wore out..
    there is a lot that needs to be done right now,and we could use some help..
    if we do not jump on this right now ,we may never see public access in asheville again..
    mark my words.
    get on the phone now to see what you can do..
    if you do not know who to call,you may call me.. 828-775-0797 ..

  3. If those who spouted negative words would have put into positive action…

    Katie…. you failed to mention that you did not use the studio to produce your work… you just dropped off finished dvd’s…. how much time did you spend there getting to know how things worked? Did you ever sit and speak personally with Pat? With as many negative people trying to take URTV down…

    How many picked up the ball and organized a fund raiser for URTV? How many of you did anything positive for the studio? Pat Garlinghouse, might not be a “people person” But she did know the Laws concerning public access and how it should be run. That is why it did continue to improve until it was forced to close because of lack of funds. Not because WNCCMC did not have active producers that submitted great programing.

    OH Yeah… we seemed to forget the producers that cared about URTV….

  4. Lasereye

    GEE – that’s why it’s called: “Your TV”! Wow – another soul wakes up to realize the time is short to stand up and protect their 1st amendment rights to freedom of expression to have an open public access cable TV channel from the machinations of our local government. This is much bigger than the side-story of which new non-profit will run the channel. It’s all about controlling the voice of the people – to have the ability to come together to propagate vigorous debate among their fellow citizens around the actions and plans of our local government institutions.

  5. Actually Lasereye (Mr Horn) the opportunities to speak out are now much greater than ever in the past. Just on Mtn Exp forums, it’s unusual for any new topic to go without comment.

    Most people seem to be of the mind that URTV had become for the most part, unwatchable.

    It was the management of URTV and the BOD governing it that brought this turn of events. How could any right thinking governmental body possibly consider renewing a contract with an entity that failed woefully to uphold their end of the agreement? Had the BOd looked at the contract two or three years ago, they would have been aware terms were not being met. Those of us who did raise concerns were run off. (As has been well documented here and elsewhere.)

    So now it’s over…perhaps a new entity can do a better job of protecting the public trust. Meantime for you Mr. ex VP of the Board…you’re back in your rented trailer in Leicestor. I for one couldn’t be happier with that turn of events.

  6. Lasereye

    Obviously I disagree with your outside assessment and your opinion of the BOD. Plus, I would be very surprised to see a new entity come forth that can take its place – let alone survive – due to the funding now being presented by the County.

    Being a fine soul with many heartfelt traits I’m sure you will be of immense value to your place of domicile in the city.

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