Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Will public access TV go dark?"

Here's a short follow up to yesterday's post on Public Access Channels and our own AOC. The article makes some of the same points I made locally in their New York/National context.
Nationwide, some 1.2 million volunteers and 250,000 community groups who produce the grassroots programming could be blacked out.

"There's an African proverb that says 'When the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled,'" said Anthony Riddle of the Alliance of Community Media, a group dedicated to preserving public access nationwide.
This is one of those rare issues that only looks like an obscure national issue; it is really 30,000 discrete local issues. Letting the phone companies shift it to the national level means forever separating those that benefit (local citizens) from those who control the benefit (535 reps in Washington). Just how long will it take, once all the rules are made in Washington, for the top 10 cablecos and phone companies in the country to convince Congress to take any benefit at all away from local communities by labeling it "anti-competitive regulation?" I don't give it a decade.

It is a profoundly bad idea...at once anti-conservative and anti-liberal and anti-community. The only beneficiaries are the phone companies...and 535 people who will probably get two election cycles worth of special-interest funding out of it before it's a forgotten issue.

If you'd like to keep local issues local you really ought to write your congressional representatives and tell them. Ditto for the state reps when this issue appears in March.

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