Our Production Assistant Luke Zeller, 12 years old, was in attendance at last night's Buncombe County Commissioner's meeting to show his support for our local media center. He loves WNCCMC and is learning about his passion; videography! Luke's life and our show is definitely enriched by his participation in our local access media center.
After about a month of talking up the meeting to come, tonight's Buncombe County Commissioner's meeting has happened and another milestone in the journey of local media access is passed. Many people were in attendance, and many voices were not heard. Fact and falsehood were bandied about, but the truth remains that local access TV stations were established as a designated public access point for local everyday voices of people to be heard. Funding has been dwindling for our local access media center even though no other station in the state of North Carolina faces such mysterious shrinks in their operating funds available except Buncombe county.
I used to produce a local access program in Santa Barbara over 20 years ago. They serve an almost exact same size population/region and operate on $632,000 per year. Our county is currently dribbling out just over $3k per quarter and acting like its charity to offer less than $15,000 to run our community media center for a whole year, saying "isn't it time to get off the dime."
We are being denied funds legally designated to serve the public's voice being heard. It isn't a charity but a responsibility to honor based laws that established local access stations be set up to leave at least one channel in many communities for everyday folks to be heard; where just about anyone can produce a program and give a diverse local voice to the mix of all the other commercial channels that dominate the airwaves on TV, radio and internet to the tune of sell, sell, sell. Local access is different. It's real.
It was a bit sad tonight, because many of our local county commissioners didn't even seem to understand or know that it is a designated amount of money set aside because cable channels exponentially expanded commercial interests ability to pump out their messages when we went from 3 to a zillion channels. Our local public access channels are sacred bastions of free speech via television and media production set aside for regular people so we still have some input in what goes on the air as citizens. An engaged and inspired local citizenry is the lifeblood of the best communities to live, work and play. Asheville produces more live and original programming than many large metro areas, such as Atlanta. Our media center has operated on such minimal funds it's like running on ethers. The staff has performed miracles of administration with a ridiculously low amount of money for far too long. Support needs to be seen by our county and city to show that it understands the value of our local media center. Our local media access channel is an educational outlet that enriches our population in many ways.
Please stay abreast of this issue and stand for individual access to media, in your life, home, community and world. It is the medium through which change for good is accelerated and comes to life around the world in the internet age. Let us work together to keep the WNC Community Media center and channels like URTV well-funded to strengthen the heart of our communities.