When cable TV was still new, many communities required cable companies to provide one or a few channels for local, community-produced programs. But public access TV has gotten a bad rap in many areas, and with the advent of YouTube, some people are questioning whether public access TV will survive. We asked Ron Cooper, executive director of Access Sacramento, for his thoughts:
The Internet is not going to kill public access TV. The Internet serves those who are techno-savvy, in other words, those who are already served. They’re generally highly educated, young, and confident. A lot of people don’t use the web, but they do watch TV.
Some stations are like catcher’s mitts: they catch programs that people pitch to them. If they mostly do that, they end up catering to the vanity video crowd.
We do a lot of reaching out, sending our broadcast truck out, making sure we serve the community, by broadcasting for example, the Pacific Rim [music] Festival, the Santa Claus Parade, the Peace and Freedom March, high school football games . . . in fact we broadcast more than 57 school sports events last year. That’s real public and community access programming.