Tuning into Community Cable: The Hopes and Heartache of Public Access Television

New America Foundation
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
4:00pm - 6:00pm

Public access cable operations provide important opportunities for voices rarely heard on mainstream media. These operations were often begun with the same high hopes that many of us now invest in the Internet or social media. Underserved communities fought for the right to get on cable, and they won the right to require cable companies to provide public access channels as part of the public interest payment for using the public streets and alleys to get to cable consumers. But now in 21 states franchise agreements have expired and funding has been slashed, putting an estimated 500 public access channels in severe risk of going off the air. The 2011 Community Access Preservation Act did not become law, but advocates are working on a version of the bill to introduce in the Senate this year. What does the future hold for public access cable?

DCTV, the public access operation in the District of Columbia has served the community for 25 years. Whether it is a daily roundtable on local D.C. politics or a documentary by high school students, DCTV is a forum for the community. But who watches? Are the past hopes for public access realized? And what does the future hold for DCTV?

Join us for a conversation with both participants and experts in community television as they discuss the role of public access TV in D.C. in particular and the policy environment for public access TV across the country.


Tonya Gonzalez
Vice President of Public Affairs, DCTV

Bunnie Reidel
Director, American Community Television

Robyn Holden
Program Host, DCTV
Founder, The National Media Consortium

Mark Lloyd
Director, Media Policy Initiative