By: Charles Douglas
Local grassroots producers, such as the readers of this newsletter, engage in something that has taken root in America as an essential part of our communication landscape. Public access TV has a proud history of cultural enrichment and community empowerment in localities across the country. The Rogue Valley shares this history, which stretches back over two decades to the founding of Ashland Community Television in 1989.
Past success, however, does not guarantee a secure future. In just the last few years, other communities have not been so fortunate as those in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Heavy-hitting telecom corporations have rolled back regulations protecting the infrastructure, funding and even existence of public, education and government access television. Entire states have stripped the ability of local governments to protect these resources in their franchise agreements with cable companies, and over 100 PEG access stations have gone dark, denying these residents a voice in the mass media, not to mention training opportunities and access to vital information on the activities of city, county and state governments.
These developments need not be replayed here in Southern Oregon. Thankfully, Rogue Valley Community Television has several advantages:
A relatively friendly state regulatory environment;
Well-developed relationships with partners at the County of Jackson and Cities of Ashland, Grants Pass & Medford;
A higher educational institution here at SOU that supports the mission of RVTV as part of its own charge to empower local communities and provide real-world educational experiences for students entering a high-tech communications industry.
The Rogue Valley Public Access Advisory Board is intended to complement these advantages by adding a crucial element, namely a strong, vocal and ongoing effort to raise public awareness of and public support for the work of RVTV in general and its Community Access program specifically.
We’re already working on updates to our RVTV Policies & Procedures and we have some sections drafted and ready for the PAAB to tackle at its first meeting – but this group isn’t just a sounding board for staff. It is our hope that the PAAB will brainstorm new ways to engage public interest and make the Channel 15 viewing experience as captivating as possible (not to mention the deployment of our new media resources on-line in multiple formats).
We hope you will consider applying to join the PAAB. Some applications have already come in, and we’d like to receive the rest by Saturday, Mar. 2. RVTV staff will announce the selection of up to 8 members at the upcoming Producers Meeting. Please write Charles if you would like an electronic application sent to you; they’re also available here at the DMC.