“The whole thing is terrible the way it presently is. I’m afraid to
tell you unless there’s an uprising among the people, public television
is going to stay the way it is now.” — LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a former cable TV executive.
For 25 years, the people of Los Angeles could use 14 Time Warner Cable studios in all parts of the city to produce television shows on the public access channels to express their views, their values, their ideas.
It was free speech at its best, and sometimes its worst. That’s exactly what the First Amendment is all about.
But last year free speech was dealt a harsh blow when state legislation freed Time Warner from maintaining the studios and providing a public access channel.
City Hall, despite millions of dollars in revenue from the cable giant specifically intended to support public access TV, diverted the money to its own purposed and that was the end of freedom of expression on television in Los Angeles.
It was an attack on the rights of all us — the product of a collusion between government officials and giant telecom and cable companies, the same forces that are threatening to end the open access to the Internet. .
What we are left with is nothing but the endless propaganda on Channel 35 where our city officials posture for the cameras and mislead the public about what they are doing and an endless stream of uncritical promotions for city policies.
For its part, Time Warner Cable — freed from any obligation to public services — curries favor by providing shows on its On Demand channels that are nothing but propaganda opportunities for public officials.
Now, a movement to restore public access open to all as it was intended to be will launch later this week.
It’s called the Public Television Industry Corporation and brings together people from the entire political spectrum from Stanley Sheinbaum and Ed Asner to business and TV executives and citizen activists like David Hernandez and me.
PTIC is the brainchild of Leslie Dutton, founder of the Full Disclosure Network which has used the power of public access television for years to investigate government actions that the mainstream media never would touch.
A short preview video of a two-hour movie about public access TV, its history and importance is now available online at the Full Disclosure Network website in advance of the launch of www.PTIC.com.
PTIC is the start of that uprising. Its success will depend on whether you value your own First Amendment rights enough to join the fight.
Here is the PTIC mission statement:
The Public Television Industry Corporation, P-TIC is dedicated to serving the people and community organizations of the Los Angeles region, and to provide them with an added source of information and opinion , a forum to discuss issues and a means for providing first hand stories about our rich and diverse community life.
We do this by providing access to video production training and equipment, studio space, edit facilities and air time for persons interested in delivering non-commercial messages to their community utilizing the powerful medium of cable television in order to have positive impact on the community.
Public, Education and Governmental (PEG ) access is the result of a national citizens’ movement in the 1970′s. It was created to provide communities with airtime on their local cable systems. Until January 2009, for the past 25 years the people of Los Angeles have had access to 14 community cable channels and studios provided by cable operators with franchise agreements with the City of Los Angeles. California’s 2006 DIVCA legislation has created an urgent need for community members to join with the Los Angeles based media and television industry to work together with partners in education and community to restore public access via Community Media Centers in Los Angeles.
At P-TIC, we believe in the free exchange of ideas, the basic tenets of free speech via the PEG access channels, and that this contributes to a more productive and engaged community. Diverse ideas can be shared and non-commercial community voices can utilize the powerful medium of cable television–without the constraints and cost of commercial television.
We are dedicated to ensuring a diversity of voices and programming on our channels, to contribute to an informed and engaged community. Additionally, we are committed to develop and support initiatives aimed at increasing civic participation in the democratic process.
Our mission is to feature, on our website, the initiatives and examples of collaborative ventures. The goal of P-TIC is to involve our communities on many levels. We are to be the communication platform that allows members of the community, non-profit organizations, and educational partners along with government officials to provide the public with information and opinion beneficial to all.
Another major part of our mission is to increase outreach, to develop and expand community participation. All four of the media center facilities are to be designed to provide cable viewers with an increasingly diverse mix of information, stories and experiences provided by independent producers from the community.