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Akron Public Cable Access TV

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Important information regarding public access TV programming

Public access TV is divided into 3 sections, Public programming, Educational programming and Government programming. The channels where this programming is aired are referred to as PEG channels.  These channels are provided in the franchise agreement between the city and the cable company.  There are made available for community service programming for groups and individuals to become sources of information not just consumers. In the Telecommunications Acts of 1934,1984 and 1992, the Federal government has shown that they support the need in this country for citizens and groups to have access to an electronic marketplace to express their views and ideas. Federal language is very clear. It states "Public access channels are often the video equivalent  of the speaker's soapbox or the electronic parallel to the printed leaflet.  They provide groups and individuals who generally have not had access to the electronic media  with the opportunity to become sources of information in the electronic marketplace of ideas."

Federal law also states in US 47 531 Title VI 611,"Subject to section 544(d) of this title, a cable operator shall not exercise any editorial control over any Public, Educational or Governmental use of channel capacity provided pursuant to this section".  In 1996, The Federal Supreme Court again used very clear language, "Operators of cable systems are permitted to decide whether or not to air indecent programming on leased access channels, but cannot be required to segregate and block all indecent programming.  Cable operators cannot bar such programming from P(ublic)E(ducational)or G(overnmental) access channels."

In the Akron area Time Warner has designated channel 15 as the public channel.  From 6am-10pm Monday -Friday Akron Public Schools controls the channel. Public programming is aired from 10pm- 6am Monday-Friday and on Saturday and Sunday. Governmental programming can pre-empt any programming without advance notice.  According to Akron city ordinance (639-1989) this should not be the situation. "No later than the time the channel capacity of the system is expanded to 35 channels, the Company shall make available a second community service channel EXCLUSIVELY for educational programming, as requested by the City.  No later than the time the channel capacity of the system is expanded to 62 channels, the Company shall make available an additional channel for community service programming, as requested by the City."  There are also  provisions for up to 3 additional community service channels.

There are currently over 200 channels available yet only 1 community service channel because the City has never requested any additional channels.  For many years, citizens in the community and even the director of APS 15 have requested a separate channel for educational programming.

Instead of requesting an additional channel for educational programming, the Mayor and Council President approved drastic changes that began 4/1/05. As a result, there is very little programming on channel 15. Marco Somerville, Mark Williamson, and Dave Muntean(city law department) have all stated that the changes were to eliminate "objectionable programming ". This is an exercise in editorial control over the content of programming on a PEG channel and in clear violation of Federal language.  The changes created a "box" consisting of Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Barberton, Moodier, Monroe Falls and Wadsworth.  Only programming that is 100% content from these communities is permitted. Popular programming such as "Democracy Now" and "Army News" are among the shows eliminated.  In addition, producers are required to pay Time Warner a $25 fee with every tape submitted for airing. All programming by Akron producers has been eliminated from airing in Canton and vice versa.  PEG programming continues as usual in Youngstown, Warren, Wadsworth and cities across the nation. There were no public hearings on these changes, council as a whole was left out of the decision making process as were Government officials from Cuyahoga Falls and the other effected cities.
 
By law, Time Warner is required to provide community service channels.  By law, they cannot have any editorial control over the content. By law, they cannot block airing indecent programming. By law, the City needs only to request an additional channel and Time Warner must provide it. There is currently a Federal lawsuit pending to address these and other issues regarding Time Warner cable's violations of the law.

There are 3 ways that you can help restore community service programming in the Akron/Canton area.

1)  We need money to continue the Federal lawsuit against the City of Akron and 
Time Warner. $1000 is needed immediately to get the transcripts which are
needed to prepare for trial. Go to HowToFightCityHall.com and contribute to 
our legal defense fund.

2)  We need money to continue producing community service programming.  The 
$25 fee is in addition to normal production costs and equipment because Time  Warner refuses to  provide us with a studio. Go to
http://freedomjournaltv.tripod.com  or Paypal.com become a sponsor. Email 
donations to call330 384 8904@aol.com checks and credit cards accepted.

3)   Contact Marco Somerville, Mike Williams and all members of Akron City Council at 330-375-2256 and DEMAND that they make Time Warner follow the law both local and Federal. They can reverse these restrictions at any time as they hold the franchise agreement over Time Warner.

Additional information on public access programming is available
@ buskegroup.com/PEG_Access_Basics.pdf and http://freedomjournaltv.tripod.com

Rose Wilcher
FreedomJournal.Tv/CEO

 

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