City of Fayetteville to out-of-town public access producers: Drop Dead | Street Jazz

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

City of Fayetteville to out-of-town public access producers: Drop Dead

Posted By on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:38 AM

The City of Fayetteville exercises no editorial control over C.A.T. Channel 18 Television. - City of Fayetteville website

No, actually, by limiting who can and who can not use a facility, that is very much editorial control.

You have to sort congratulate the “management team” of the current city administration; they have been able to achieve something that was attempted during a much less “progressive” administration in 1992, but was successfully thwarted by the citizens of Fayetteville.

In 1992, after the Great Access War, and the PEG (Public, Education and Government) channels were wet up, the city’s first cable administrator had a meeting with all of the public access producers and announced that, henceforth, only Fayetteville residents would be allowed to use the public access facility.

The reaction was was both swift and very loud. I think that what surprised the cable administrator the most was that most of the support for out-of-town producers seemed to come from Fayetteville producers/residents, who had worked with them, and appreciated their hard work and creativity.

In the 21st Century, the city of Fayetteville - not having a mass meeting with producers (and thus treating them like second-class citizens) has managed to avoid that. With the stroke of a pen, out-of-town producers are now persona non grata.

True, a number of those who have already been producers have been “grand-fathered” in in, but others have not been. And for the near future, until the city has an administration (or staff) that values the creativity of its friends and neighbors in surrounding communities, no new ones will be allowed in under the wire.

This is called cutting your nose off to spite your face.

For over three decades, Fayetteville - and the rest of Northwest Arkansas - has been enriched by the creativity and talent not only of its own citizens, but of the creativity of the citizens in the cities and small towns who surround us. Public access has been a creative mecca, where people of all faiths and political views worked together on projects.

It has been been a video community quilt, showing off the diversity of our region, revealing to all the many facets of our lives.

This decision to limit public access only to the citizens of Fayetteville may make sense on a bean counter level, but on a higher level, it is political blindness in action.

As one person pointed to me out last week, public access is precisely the sort of thing that the city should be embracing, especially when out-of-town folks thought enough of our town to plunk money down to learn how to use video equipment and make their own shows.

These now unwelcome folks? What exactly did they do for us?

Well, besides the obvious fact that we all benefitted from their passion and creativity, they also - oh, yeah, THEY SPENT MONEY HERE!

And not just at C.A.T., but in local stores and eateries. Ah, well, we don’t need their money.

Not only that, but folks from various film festivals have been talking about the access station in Fayetteville in a positive way. Some were even coming to take classes in Fayetteville, and working on their films in Fayetteville.

Documentary film-makers were using public access equipment. All of these films were shown on C.A.T.

They talked about not just C.A.T., but also Fayetteville in a positive manner. We were a city that was open to the arts, and artists. No matter where they hailed from.

Still not too late for reps from the city to meet with a roomful of producers. Nobody’s holding their breath, though.

******
No, what? This is what the city is concerned about?

I’ve been involved with access television for 20 years now, and one of the things that has always attracted folks has been the community bulletin boards that have been posted in the lobbies of the various centers in Fayetteville.

Such boards have featured newspaper articles about access, cards sent in from grateful members of the community, and notices from producers seeking crews.

Those are now gone from the eerily antiseptic lobby of the PEG Center at 101 W. Rock. In their place are the standard bulletin boards with the sort of government information one might see in a factory lobby.

Gone is the break room where producers have brain-stormed ideas for so many years. The break room is now a “classroom.”

Though the staff are still wonderful to deal with, you still have to get past the lobby, which has all the warmth of a proctologist’s office.

Which, all things considered . . .

*****
Then again, some people should be persuaded from never talking about access until they actually know something about the subject

Was this a Freudian slip? Does the city have ultimate aspirations to run public access?

Or does someone who should know better really not care enough to know the difference?

As quoted in the Northwest Arkansas Times on January 7, a member of the city staff said:

“You can go there, you can be trained to use equipment, you can check out equipment like a library book and bring your program back and we’ll put it on the air for you.”

No.

No.

No.

The city has nothing to do with putting programs on the air. And thank god for it, at this stage.

The public access provider - Community Access Television - puts programs on the air.

This person might do well to avail themselves of the free orientations held at C.A.T. But then again, you can pretty much say any damn thing to a reporter about public access and they’ll print it, especially if you have a job in government.

****

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