Public Access TV could get funding boost from federal legislationPublic Access TV supporters in Wisconsin are hoping a bill in Congress will return a major source of funding for stations.
By: By Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Public Access TV supporters in Wisconsin are hoping a bill in Congress will return a major source of funding for stations.
The bill is known as the Community Access Preservation Act. Among other things, it would allow cities to again collect what are known as Public, Educational and Government or PEG fees from cable providers to pay for public access channels. In Wisconsin, those fees had been around for decades until the legislature eliminated them in 2007. But the federal legislation has been stuck in committee for nearly a year. Mary Cardona is the director of Wisconsin Community Media. She says people need to rally their elected officials to get the Community Access Preservation Act passed.
"Legislators need to understand how important these channels are to local communities,” Cardona said. “Really they're the only local avenue people have to talk to their whole communities in a centralized place."
Joel Desprez is executive director of Chippewa Valley Community Television. He says PEG fees made up half of his entire budget. Since losing them, Desprez says he's had to cut three paid staff members and work in a smaller, more affordable space. He says the station still covers local government meetings but community interaction has suffered.
"As far as the outreach in order to get people in the community to use the channel to encourage people and teach people to make television that reflects the community, that's the hard part, that's what we're falling short on, I think, because of the cutbacks," Desprez said.
While the Community Access Preservation Act may be stuck in committee it has attracted 22 co-signers including Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore.