Of 276 U.S. cities of 100,000 or more residents, 256 of them — that’s 93 percent — televise routine meetings of one or more of their governmental bodies on PEG (public, educational and government access) channels, says Rob McCausland on the Sustaining Democracy in a Digital Age blog. McCausland, who has been involved in community access television since 1979, continues mining facts in his comprehensive study of PEG channels nationwide. Check out his ever-growing database. Local cable access channels have been struggling in recent years as support wanes: Since 2005, some 600 community access stations have shut down, according to the Alliance for Community Media.
Community access TV provides more local programming than broadcast by far.
Unedited gavel to gavel coverage of local government proceedings is a prime example of civic media made possible by local cable franchise requirements.
Many public access stations, such as the one in my city, Worcester,Massachusetts, WCCA TV 13, a non-profit public access center, provides more equally relevant programming that simply government meetings. For instance, you will find Senators and Congresspersons producing and hosting their own shows keeping their constituents updated on teh latest news and information, you will also find regular everyday citizen’s producing and hosting talk format shows as well as forums covering and discussing government issues, hosting candidate debates, and posting government related information from street sweeping to calls for committee members, to shows interviewing the Mayor and City Manager on a regular basis and more.
There is a need to ensure local franchise provisions provide for such public access centers to keep them free from political whim and corporate retribution.