Broadside TV was vulnerable to any changes in the communications environment, and in 1974 a change was forged that ultimately announced Broadside's demise: the FCC rescinded its requirement that CATV operators provide locally originated programming. Since this mandate had been the only incentive for the local cable industry to cooperate with Broadside's grand scheme, the ruling wiped out narrowcast programming virtually overnight--not just in Appalachia but throughout the nation. New rules went into effect on January 6, 1975, eliminating the local-origination ruling and adopting new rules requiring any cable system with 3,500 or more subscribers to have equipment for local cable programs, including non-operator production--what was commonly called public access. 1 Within a year, Broadside's funding from CATV operators was cut in half, and in two years it was gone. 2
When the FCC was considering revising its rulings on local origination and public access, little was said in support of local-origination programming by citizen groups which opted to defend public access. The FCC had issued a strongly worded attack against public access, noting demands for "excessive" amounts of equipment, programming and engineering personnel, and funds for programming were "franchise bargaining chips rather than serious community access efforts." The National Black Media Coalition responded by noting, "The Commission seems terribly concerned with the burden that access may put on the cable systems, but unconcerned with effectively promoting and safeguarding meaningful access to cable for the citizens who are its users and viewers."
Ninety percent of those filing comments rejected the proposition that cable operators should be required to produce local programming. Cities and states opposed the rule, because they argued it was not a matter for federal jurisdiction. Among the "public interest" filings,