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On Ramp: Access Your Community

Access Your Community

Videomakers face a number of obstacles in the pursuit of producing the perfect video. Untapped niches are becoming harder to find. Technology is changing overnight. And for those of you hoping to pursue the craft full-time, there's the issue of putting bread on the table.

For many producers, the easiest route to securing equipment access, finding a potential audience and keeping a full stomach is by working for someone else. The tradeoff is that you give up control over content. It's not your vision up there on the monitor. It's someone else's.

There is hope, however. More and more producers are finding public access television an effective and inexpensive way to produce the kinds of shows they want to put on the air. In fact, many public access television centers will allow you to take any idea you like and turn it into video.

They'll loan you the equipment, teach you how to use it and give you air time on a local cable channel. So what do you need to do? Often all you need is the right demographic profile (i.e., you must live in the geographic area served by the access center) and a small investment in training. Best of all, you can produce for public access television and keep your day job, too.

The Basics of Community Access Television

We have the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 to thank for giving us public access television. This act stated that local governments, in their capacities to grant franchises, could make cable operators provide one or more channels for public use as part of their franchise agreements. It does not say, however, that every cable operator has to provide channels for community access. Community access is strictly a function of negotiation between cable operators and the governments in the communities that they serve.

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Tags:  November 1995
Arthur
Aiello
Wed, 11/01/1995 - 12:00am