Do the Fundamental Things Apply?

Part Two: What the Third-Party Community Access Providers Say

Following up on Part One, we recap the interrogatory of interest:


Describe the fundamental purposes of community access of the CAP, including but not limited to, the following:

  • enhancing First Amendment rights;
  • providing for the dissemination of diverse views and for a marketplace of ideas and information;
  • capitalizing on the possibilities inherent in “narrowcasting,” as contrasted with broadcasting;
  • providing for viable alternatives to commercial programming,
  • and enhancing a sense of community among residents of the town and franchise area.

It’s like a writing prompt or essay question, right? The difference between how the cable companies answer for their employed CAPs and how the third-party CAPs answer for themselves is worth checking out.

Samples from the Third-Party CAPs

Sound View Community Television (page 9)

…Sound View TV’s mission always has been and will continue to be based on the notion of public access being television made for the community by the community. We empower our residents with high-quality resources and training to create their news, information, and entertainment programming that fosters pride and engagement in our community….

Sound View has always sought to foster a free exchange of ideas and allowed the vibrant access producer community to feel welcome to develop their shows unrestricted from cancel culture such as found on social media websites.

Sound View has also recognized the requests for involvement in the communities with needs and has assisted in getting those valuable messages to the community. We can bring increased recognition to other nonprofits and community organizations due to our unique venue and hyper local reputation.

Nutmeg Public Access Television (response to #43)

“Community TV goes beyond outlets for expression outside of commercial broadcasting. By having access to CAPs, communities have the opportunity to experience a host of benefits in personal and social skills. Even in the era of the internet that is saturated with for-profit modes of entertainment consumption, CAPs provide a wholesome and invaluable experience in producing content that can be incredibly meaningful to diverse individuals and whole communities.

Community Access Producers gain more than just an outlet to share their viewpoints, they also pick up skills that can serve them in the real world. Putting together content for a program teaches producers about the fundamentals of meaningful storytelling for their subject. Producers learn to work within the limitations of a time limit for their program while presenting the essential parts of their subject. Decision making skills and creativity are also developed when putting together a program as producers will have to ask the right questions in an engaging interview, show the best shots in their camera compositions, get quality sound and ultimately carry the topic and discussion for a meaningful program….”

Southeastern Connecticut Television (page 26)

Community access programming does all of the above.  It allows for freedom of speech by providing channels, support, and training in video production and editing to disseminate information.  Unlike commercial television, there is no pressure for volunteers to generate revenue for their programs to air. Many programs are produced each year which highlight the uniqueness of our regions, and offer vital information that enhances the community in so many ways. We are grateful to assist our communities and add to the quality of life in Connecticut.

Madison Cable Access Group (page 9)

MCAG’s community produce programming that illuminates every aspect of our local area: political dialogue, documentaries, oral histories, sporting events, arts and entertainment, our local government at work, school events, and much more. By fostering the creation and distribution of truly local media, Madison Cable remains a vital repository of our town’s culture and history.

Guilford Community Television (page 29)

…Our mandate has been cable and we have largely held to that though our community has been requesting On Demand Access, live broadcast and internet broadcast and support in making content more widely available. Narrowcasting in now more important than ever. Mainstream news is becoming more broad in nature meaning more of its stories are less relevant on a local basis. Other mainstream news has failed under this changing media landscape leaving an even bigger void in communities. Hyper local, town specific news is crucial to an informed public. This industry does not need more consolidation. It needs support to expand and offer content and production services in a manner the community wants to access them. Our community craves local coverage of people, events and ideas. They also want that coverage to be professional and handled by the PEG stations, who they see as the experts in the technology and processes of producing and distributing the content. A decline in community producers is not a referendum on the need for public access. It is a shift in the perception that local content should be regularly and professionally produced for the benefit of the whole community across multiple platforms….

East Haven Television (response to #43)

ETV policies align and adhere with the fundamental and guiding principles of Community Access Television in the USA and include, but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing First Amendment rights by enabling informed Free Speech and transparency in government;
  • Supporting the development of hyper‐local stories;
  • Enable dissemination of diverse views to inform and foster inclusion, education, and collaboration;
  • Foster global awareness for local engagement, and
  • Be a resource for alternatives to commercial media.

Simsbury Community Television (response #43)

Our Mission Statement:

Simsbury Community Television, Inc., DBA Simsbury Community Media is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public corporation. Its purpose is to promote community participation in the production of noncommercial programming and encourage the free expression of diverse ideas and opinions on public access cable television. Implementation of the goals of SCTV is accomplished through the efforts of the Officers, Directors, and other volunteers.

Wallingford Public Access Association (response #43)

While we operate a channel, we believe that providing the tools and stage and resources to empower voices is our fundamental purpose. This need exists even without a channel.

        In Oct 2020, an Information Literacy Resolution was adopted to clarify that our training is inclusive of information and civic literacy in support of active participation in civic society and to contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community.

        That resolution follows.

WHEREAS, Wallingford Public Access Association, Inc. (WPAA-TV and Community Media Center), a non-profit 501(c)3 operating in the Town of Wallingford CT as the designated Cable Access Provider since July 28, 1993 [reaffirmed by the franchising authority in Docket #08-04-09 in accordance with Conn. Agencies Regs. §§ 16-331a-1 to -13 Community Access Support – Definitions]; and

WHEREAS, the primary obligation established in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-331a is stewardship of the resources for meaningful community access; and

WHEREAS, meaningful community access requires technical, managerial and financial support of citizen media inclusive of production facilities, equipment and training for development of content for community TV channels; and

WHEREAS, the franchising authority in Docket No. 99-10-05 codified that Cable Access Providers are the vehicle for these requirements to reach the community served; and WHEREAS, the organization’s mission envisions empowering people to meet their own communication needs by facilitating creation of media; and

WHEREAS, as a member organization of the Alliance for Community Media we do our work under the guiding principles of promote free speech, expand civic engagement through local media, and ensure the people can seek redress of their grievances; and

WHEREAS, community media advocates c. 1960 pursued First Amendment Rights legislation to provide for meaningful opportunity for citizens to convey diverse messages with access to the mass media; and

WHEREAS, the subsequent emergence of Internet speech suggests access to mass media is no longer the essential opportunity for preservation of robust and egalitarian debate among diverse voices; and

WHEREAS, the content created for distribution on the designated channel has more reach in the secondary distribution of the Internet and social media; and WHEREAS, disinformation has always existed but the unprecedented communication power of the Internet and social media, linguistic virility (misinformation spreading quickly from person to person behaving like viral mechanisms) has reached epic proportions; and WHEREAS, as far back as the 1980s, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) identified the need for the public to be trained to critically evaluate the media and more recently the UNESCO Information Literacy Group (2018) defined Information Literacy as “the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society”; and

WHEREAS, digital literacy builds upon media literacy which involves practices that allow people to access, critically evaluate credibility, examine, comprehend and create or manipulate media with an understanding of tools such as computers, social media, and the Internet; and

WHEREAS, for our purposes, information literacy inclusive of digital literacy, which is the ability to find, evaluate, and compose information on various digital platforms using technology and media literacy, which is the ability to understand the difference between creative expression, reporting, commentary, opinion, analysis, fact and fake; and

WHEREAS, civic engagement by citizen media makers necessitates information literacy training to enable production of media in an ethical manner (not contributing to threats to the quality of public discourse).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that WPAA-TV and Community Media Center interprets its charge to provide access to resources and training for development of content for community TV channels that incorporates the principals and tools of information literacy; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that media and information competencies is a means of promoting inclusion, cultural diversity and citizen engagement in areas of justice and equity; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that everyone is a stakeholder in the struggle for better information access, social cohesion, and democracy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that WPAA will embrace civic initiatives that Engage, Educate, Equip, and Empower citizens to Expose misinformation or Exemplify the values and tenets of professional news gathering and information dissemination

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, WPAA will strive to provide production training equivalency from pre to post production such that interview techniques, story structure, presentation of data in images, style awareness (news vs. opinion) copyright | fair use and production knowledge, use of camera, audio, lights, editing are resourced.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, WPAA will strive to increase the number of digitally literate residents in Wallingford, persons who to possesses a variety of skills – technical and cognitive – required to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats to uses these skills to communicate with the general public to actively participate in civic society and contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community.

Community Voice Channel (page 8)

When I got [to CVC from the Charter CAP], immediately it was quite different, firstly it had a name right there on the face of the building, but it also had no barbed wire fence, or a two way intercom to enter and I didn’t have to call ahead each time I stopped in. Second for 2008 the equipment matched the time period, and time moves fast in this world more than others. I found the staff to be very friendly and open. Suggestions I made about software were accepted and implemented, and a storage system for shows that I suggested was also implemented. There was never any complaining about some corporate overload trying to hold them back, just a board of director they would have to talk to, which was a nice change of pace. Needless to say 4 years later I got to start working at CVC part-time and almost one year after that I was made CVC’s executive director.

What I am trying to say is that I believe in public access. I have been familiar with it since high school. I believe in the mission of giving people unfettered access to knowledge and tools to express their first amendment rights though the medium of television and it forms (television watch via the internet, etc.). Public access does a great job of expanding people’s minds, giving them the confidence that they too can create something. We show people that thanks to public access there are no barriers to video production, whether monetary or education.

To be continued

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