Current Status of Public Access Television
Public access cable television today consists of approximately two thousand centers 1 in the United States producing more than fifteen-thousand hours of new local programming every week. That is more programming than is produced by NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, and PBS combined. According to a 1992 survey, however, fewer than 20 percent of United States communities are served by public access television. Although public access television in the United States is funded primarily by the cable companies, local management is handled by various entities, including nonprofit agencies, local governments, high schools, and colleges. 2
Most often public access television is managed in one of three ways: by the local government, by the cable operator, or by a nonprofit agency created for that purpose. When managed by the cable company, public access television tends to be neglected. This is predictable since, from the cable company's point of view, the more public access television is used, the more it costs. It makes good business sense for the cable company to maintain a minimum level of service to hold down costs. When public access television is managed by the local governmental entity, the public access television budget is subject to municipal budget fluctuations and changes in the political winds. When public access is operated by local government, programming is inevitably linked to other official policies or programs. Citizens tend to hold their elected officials generally accountable for programming decisions made by the public access television organization when in reality the officials have little control. Because of these
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Publication information: Book title: Public Access Television:America's Electronic Soapbox. Contributors: Laura R. Linder - Author, Douglas Kellner - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 35.
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