MassAccess: Support Community Access Television

Where we choose to build a life, raise a family, and settle down often varies from person to person. But, once we find our home and establish our roots, we then become part of the community there. Being a part of a community means being connected to the community. Local cable access centers – and the services and access they provide – is one of the ways we forge these connections.

Whether it’s airing the local football or softball game, the school play, town meetings, or hearing from elected officials – local cable access centers keep us connected. They are an essential part of our community, often made possible by the hard work of volunteers and residents.

Local cable access channels, also known as PEG channels (Public, Educational, Government) connect us to our community and provide transparent, unbiased coverage of local government. These channels are the last hyper-local outlet for citizens, providing access to municipal meetings and providing transparency in local government. Channels provide local notices and information for citizens and residents. Additionally, individual centers provide educational and media literacy training, while serving as community hubs and centers and a training ground for students who want to pursue careers in TV and film. These centers are important to our communities, and should be treated as such.

Currently, these channels are not broadcast in High Definition as all other channels are offered and their programming is omitted from the Electronic Programming Guide, despite the fact that the vast majority of them have the ability to do so. Without these abilities, our local access channels will not be able to compete and will ultimately be left behind.

Most local cable access centers are non-profit organizations, including our local Winthrop center. An integral part of their success comes from the volunteers who devote so much time and energy to their work. For many of the volunteers in Winthrop, time at the center means time away from family and hours spent in studio at the end of a long work day – it is truly a labor of love. Our center has worked to invest in equipment and software over the years to ensure that our staff and volunteers have the resources they need to produce quality work in High Definition, that we can be proud of each day. It is discouraging to see our work broadcast in low definition and omitted from the Electronic Programming Guide. And for our viewers, it is becoming increasingly unacceptable.

An Act to Support Community Access Television, was filed by state Senator John Keenan, as well as State Reps. Ruth Balser and Antonio Cabral and is currently pending consideration before the House of Representatives. Their action on this bill could ensure the long term viability of our local stations by changing unfair limitations on PEG stations.

Passing this Bill means protecting and preserving our local cable access channels, and preserving our connection to the community.

Mike Cabral

Executive Director, Winthrop Community Access Television (WCAT)

Melinda Garfield

Executive Director, Westwood Media Center

President, MassAccess

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