Sunday, October 30, 2005

Desperately Seeking Community Access TV

By law, cable TV franchises must set aside channels for public access. That means anyone with an idea for a TV show can produce and air their programming, for free or a very nominal fee.

Many other cities with thriving, creative, independent TV producers also provide production facilities, reduced-fee rental videocameras, and classes for beginners.

In Tulsa, Cox Cable provides three channels for public access. Channel 19 and 20 are controlled by Tulsa Public Schools. From the Education Service Center, John Hamill oversees a state-of-the-art TV production facility that rivals any commercial studio.

Tulsa Governmment Access TV, TGOV, airs Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, and other public board meetings.

How do independent producers air their programming? They can get approval from TPS for Channel 19 and 20. City of Tulsa approves programming for TGOV. Local critics charge censorship of diverse programming.

There have been more than several attempts by independent Tulsa producers to air their programming on the public access channels. Beef Baloney Productions attempted to air their 30 minute variety show. Before going out of business, Beef Baloney aired on Channel 71, a fee-required channel for infomercials.

Currently, Living Arts Tulsa, an non-profit arts organization, airs programming on Channel 71. It is the de facto community access TV for Tulsa.