Local governments withhold public access TV funds. Get the story from this Independent Weekly blog post by Fiona Morgan called Legislature to consider future of public TV channels.
Both Chapel Hill and Orange County received money for Chapel Hill channel 8, on which The People’s Channel broadcasts.
Yet neither government has passed that money on to The People’s Channel. The law says local governments must spend the supplemental money on PEG channels, but it doesn’t specify which channels.
Chapel Hill spokesperson Catherine Lazorko says the town manager and town council have yet to decide how to distribute PEG funding. Chapel Hill operates its own government channel, 18, which broadcasts public meetings.
Orange County, which certified a total of three PEG channels, decided to spend all $29,400 of its supplemental PEG funding on its own government channel, 265, which broadcasts county commissioners meetings. The annual budget for Channel 265 is approximately $40,000.
There is also some discussion going on about it on Orange Politics. You’ll find my passionate comments there. Here is one.
I am very disappointed in the position Town of Chapel Hill Staff and Orange County Staff have taken in this situation. As Fiona’s article pointed out the law governing the funds distributed by the state is up to interpretation. But for the County Assistant Manager and Manager to hide behind a legal opinion that they support to retain funds purposely earmarked by the State for a local non-profit is disgusting!
I wish this were a case of unemotional bean counting in a disconnected bureaucracy. But it just doesn’t seem so. I look forward to more information coming to light on the attitude our public servants have had when dealing with our fellow citizens. If they treated other nonprofits with more loud public voices this way I think Council, Commissioners, and citizens would be publicly outraged.
Please consider donating to The Peoples’ Channel, taking a course to learn how to shoot and edit your own video at TPC, and asking your local representatives WHY our Staff members act this way.
To get a bit more background on the situation here is a PDF that describes PEG (Public Access Television) Funding.