Cable Access

From: Bernard Roddy (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Feb 12 2007 - 06:08:00 PST

O.k., this reply represents roughly the debates I have heard here. Here's how I understand this, roughly. Let's consider the case for broadening the range of content (television, internet, phone). Commercial providers consider the local television affiliates and the public representatives who control access to the local video markets to be competitors, but competitors without the expenses incurred by a business that has to meet market demands. In other words, they object to requirements that they satisfy the conditions imposed by local public representatives before having access to those local markets. They see this as a requirement that they consult with their competitors, then provide technical facilities for them. This is a natural response on the part of someone who does not see himself or herself as a public service, but as a private one. However, these providers then argue that trashing the requirements imposed by local officials will improve the quality of
 content. They argue that it will invite competition amongst commercial providers. The problem is that any such competitor will not be able to afford (and has no good private reason) to provide content that is not lucrative. If you watch the cable access programming in Chicago, you will see virtually all the African American churches and local communities actively involved. Look anywhere else for anywhere near that level of local involvement in media production and, I bet, you won't find it. Of course, those who think a lot about whether the content or technology can compete with the high-rise service providers will be thinking about the move to HD or whatever. But this is part of the problem. Many communities are not represented, and an upgrade leaves them further behind. It is certainly true that without "diversifying" their content, such a cable access video provider will not be able to compete for advertising that hopes to reach an affluent market. But cable
 access was never intended to compete with such content-providers, which are monopolized by white middle- and upper-class interests. About the representation of artists on cable access, here in Chicago programming has included work curated by individuals from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The problem would be addressed by expanding the notion of art and by greater investment in public media, not by abdicating to a market-driven commercial upgrade.

40 Frames <email suppressed> wrote:
> Anyone who follows the comparable debate in the U.S. (such as the
> decision to cut public funding for the Ann Arbor Film Festival or the
> various efforts to cut funding to cable access television stations) will
> likely notice a disparity in common sense.
> Bernie

I cannot speak for Ann Arbor, but the (proposed) cuts to cable access, and
the role that access plays, is actually not so cut and dry. Access TV is,
in my opinion, suffering from legacy issues in terms of content delivery,
educational models and training, as well as a lack of commitment to the
arts (beyond the most popular and already well funded organizations).

Acess TV does very little in the way of supporting artists. The only
provisions made for artist is access to equipment, and many access centers
lag far behind the professional markets in the technology they provide.
Access centers will be the last organizations to be in a position to
embrace (afford) HD content delivery.

As people continue to migrate from cable TV to the web for content
delivery and consumption, access center's (who do not diversify their
delivery options) will have an increasingly difficult time proving their

Thank you for posting the information about the governmental
recommendations now taking place in Canada. I do hope the movement is
successful as I am someone who moved into an industrial area for the cheap
rent, and will be part of the first wave that is priced out of an area
that we (the arts community) helped to make more viable for economic
development. There should be some protections for artist, but I can only
imagine the intense opposition to something like this in the states where
it would undoubtly be treated as "wellfare".


Alain LeTourneau
Pamela Minty
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Portland, OR 97214
United States

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