"If there's good public access, it's a result of grassroots organizing by people
who see this as an important public resource."
47 It would seem, then, that public access television is positioned for continued growth. The primary responsibility for assuring the availability and quality of public access television rests
not with the Congress or the courts, but with the local citizenry whom it is
intended to serve.
The battles for the future of public access television will be waged one by one,
citizen by citizen, and community by community. Each municipality will have to
determine for itself the value it places on the creation and support of a local, noncommercial television outlet. It is a battle most often waged on two fronts: philosophic and economic. If a community and its leaders are not convinced of the
benefits of providing citizens with the means of producing their own television
programs, the concept is unlikely to get off the ground. But even when advocates
are able to muster political support, financial support is required for public access
to survive and thrive. Although public access television organizations are funded
primarily by the cable companies, local governments, and/or an educational institution, often funding is not at a sustainable level. Because of this insufficient
funding, many public access television organizations are challenged to find additional sources of income.
Bert Briller, "Accent on Access Television", Television Quarterly 28, no. 2 (Spring 1996): 51.
Anita Sharpe, "Television (A Special Report): What We Watch -- Borrowed Time --
Public-Access Stations Have a Problem: Cable Companies Don't Want Them Anymore", Wall Street Journal, 9 September 1994, sec. R, p. 12; Ralph Engelman, Public Radio and
Television in America: A Political History, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996, 257, 260. See
also Pat Aufderheide, "Cable Television and the Public Interest", Journal of
Communication 42 (Winter 1992): 58; Public, Educational, and Government Access on
Cable Television Fact Sheet, Alliance for Community Media, Washington, DC.
Community Media Resource Directory, Washington, DC Alliance for Community
Media, 1994, Appendices A-E; and City of Greensboro Cable Task Force Report, City of Greensboro, NC, September 1992. Unpublished.
James Barron, "Cable TV: The Big Picture", New York Times, 10 April 1994, p. 14.
Andy Newman, "More than Television", New York Times, 7 January 1996, New Jersey
edition, p. 1.
Nancy Polk, "The View from New Haven; Public Access TV: It's Storer's Money, but
Independent Talent", New York Times, 1 May 1994, sec. CN, p. 14; "Mission Viejo OKs
Cable Channel for Public's Use", Los Angeles Times, 1 May 1993, Orange County edition,
sec. B, p. 6; and Linda K. Fuller, Community Television in the United States: A Sourcebook
on Public, Educational, and Governmental Access, ( Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994),148.
See Chapter 4 for a more detailed analysis of public access funding.