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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Buncombe Commissioners Refuse to Bailout URTV

Buncombe County Commissioners Are Against a Bailout of URTV

The URTV Saga continues. Here is an excerpt from The Wild West blog of the John Locke Foundation regarding last night's refusal of the Buncombe County Commissioners to bailout URTV...
I felt like a sucker at the meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners tonight. Questioning why I had never felt so before, I realized this was the first time I was hearing fiscal conservatism from the dais. Though swarmed by petitioners for money to bailout URTV, Commissioner Holly Jones said those who wanted URTV to survive would have to pool their mental resources and come up with a plan. Chair David Gantt echoed. He did not think it appropriate for government to be holding the purse strings of Public Access TV. Prior to public comment, consultant John Howell kept pointing his finger at the state for screwing the county out of revenues it could be channeling to URTV. When Howell said the commissioners had the option of giving URTV a special award, Commissioner Bill Stanley, replied thrice, “That’s not an option,” then added, “We can’t raise taxes.”
Source: Running Out of Dreams by Leslee Kulba (emphasis added by me)

I've not really blogged about the thing here because I've thought the whole thing an exercise in silly people pursuing silly power plays in an endless parade of silly Drama Queens. 

PEG, short for Public, Educational, Government access television got its start in the late sixties and early seventies via the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). These channels are typically only available to cable television subscribers, although many now stream their content on the Internet. It is my belief that the Internet has essentially rendered public access obsolete. Many more people can watch via the Internet rather than the small cable TV audiences. Here is a portion of what I have posted recently on the Mountain Xpress website regarding my thought on the matter:

PEG Channels have been rendered obsolete by technical means. Anyone with a camera and access to a fast Internet connection can make videos and upload them for the world to see…not just the few local cable TV subscribers in their town.

Cameras are cheap. You can get an HD camera for less than $200. Video Editing Software is cheap. Windows Movie Maker and iMove are free and there are many open source options available as well, and good editors can be had for under $100.

Training is cheap or even free if one can use a search engine and is willing to read and then conduct their own experiments to see if they’ve understood what they’ve read about the theory and application of filming techniques and various articles regarding technical aspects of building or operating a studio.

About your citation of the 1984 Cable Franchise Policy and Communications Act, the full text is available at
You didn’t pay attention to the wording of the Barry Goldwater’s bill. It states “may require not shall require. May require means that it is an option, not a requirement. The local government has the option of keeping the money. Most local governments around the country keep that money.

PEG advocates may have intended the 1984 bill to save PEG Channels from the Supreme Court ruling against the FCC in FCC vs. Midwest Video Corp. , but it had the opposite effect due to the poor wording of the bill as sponsored by Barry Goldwater.

Public Access was created to provide a free-speech forum, open to all on a first-come, first-served basis without discrimination or favoritism based on content. I argue that the Internet, along with cheap cameras, free or cheap software and free or cheap training renders PEG Channels obsolete, if not already parochial.

And, as a bonus, you don’t have to deal with the ever-present internecine bureaucratic struggles for power and control of local PEG programming, facilities, equipment and funds.


One other thing I forgot to mention that makes Public Access totally irrelevant is 24/7 FREE WEBCASTING available via Ustream, Livestream (formerly Mogulus) and Justin TV. There are others that also offer this service.

You can do live shows, or upload pre-recorded content without having to worry about putting your hands in other people’s pockets for money to bankroll your operation or having to worry about open meeting laws or power-hungry people hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on you or the person running the operation. You don’t have to worry about childish office politics as people jockey to get a better time slot or use a piece of equipment that Other People’s Money bought for you.

[Be sure to click over and read the lengthy discussion over there on the matter. (also check out this new discussion thread) It floors me that some people who consider themselves to be fiscally conservative would support bailouts on the local level...since they oppose them on the federal level. I consider that a hypocritical attitude.]

I think that the primary reason that the Buncombe County Commissioners are staying out of the URTV Saga is the violently vociferous actions of a few people who have been, in my opinion, seeking personal and political power via the URTV platform. In their mad pursuits, they have killed (or very badly wounded) the very thing they claim to support. 

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