Wednesday, May 31, 2017

MassAccess Testifies in Support of Community Access Television

MassAccess Testifies in Support of Community Access Television
MassAccess Testifies in Support of Community Access Television
MassAccess, the nonprofit trade organization representing community media stations throughout Massachusetts, testified today in support of their legislation, 'An Act to Support Community Access Television,' filed by Senator John Keenan and Representative Ruth Balser. The Bill seeks to allow community media stations access to Electronic Programming Guides and channel signal quality that is comparable to local broadcast stations - now and in the future.

Local cable television channels, often called "PEG channels" to correspond with the mission of public, educational or government access, provide a valuable public service to the community. Passage of the Bill would require cable companies to allow for broadcast of PEG channels in HD format and inclusion of programming in viewers' electronic guides. These two changes would allow for PEG channels to be on par with most other offerings in cable television, and allow for greater access for viewers.

"These stations provide a public service to Massachusetts residents," said William Nay, General Manager, MashpeeTV, and MassAccess President. "The refusal to offer local channels in HD and access to the programming guide discriminates against cable subscribers in Massachusetts and hinders the independent voices in our communities by denying equal access to local stations."

Massachusetts residents account for only 2% of the cable subscribers in the country, but accounts for 16% of all the community media stations in the country. There are over 200 local access cable TV centers in Massachusetts, the highest concentration of media centers in the country. Local Access TV is 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.

"In a world where media production has become global, the community media center has stayed true to its local roots…all while continuing to embrace emerging technology. This is what community media centers do," said Melinda Garfield, Executive Director, Westwood Media Center and MassAccess Vice President. "But, to stay relevant and accessible, stations need the same consideration and treatment as other cable offerings."

The bill was previously heard by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in November 2015, and given a "study order" in April 2016. Language relevant to the Bill was included in both the House and Senate versions of the Economic Development bill last year, but was omitted from the final version put forward.

About MassAccess

Massachusetts Community Media, Inc. (MassAccess) is a non-profit, 501(c)(6), [membership-based], advocacy agency, guided by a volunteer board of community media professionals. Our goal is to ensure the future vitality of Massachusetts based community media centers by developing educational workshops, monitoring legislation, utilizing technology to inform and enhance community media centers, as well as acting as government liaisons to inform supporters across Massachusetts regarding the current political landscape in regards to media.

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