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Public Access TV: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Public Access TV (PATV)?
PATV is TV programming made by local citizens and nonprofit groups and broadcast on a local cable TV channel. Citizens are trained by professional PATV staff to use video cameras and editing equipment to make TV programs.

 

2. Who pays for PATV?

PATV is funded by the cable company as part of the "rent" it pays for exclusive use of the public right of ways to run cable to our homes. Our public right of ways are extremely valuable. For example, the city and county cable franchises combined (approx. 70,000 subscribers) will generate between $700 million and $1 billion in gross revenue for the cable company over 15 years.

In addition, in some communities, a small fee is charged for training in the use of cameras and equipment. But the air time and use of the equipment are free to all citizens and nonprofits.

 

3. Making TV programs is expensive. If the cable company funds PATV, won't my monthly cable bill increase?

No. Cable company rates are based on their nearest competitor, satellite-dish TV. Funding PATV is simply part of the cost of doing business in a dynamic, sophisticated community.

Cable companies may threaten to raise rates if they are asked to fund PATV. However, with federal rate deregulation, cable companies are free to raise rates for any reason. Their rates, therefore, are based on competitive pressures, regardless of how much rent they pay for the use of public right of ways.

Linking cable rates to funding for PATV is like Wal-Mart claiming that they must charge more for disposable diapers or lawnmowers because a local government requires them to spend more money for additional landscaping, flood control and road construction. These expenditures are absorbed as part of the cost of doing business in a community that Wal-Mart, or the cable company, find desirable.

 

4. Does PATV have any connection to WNC's growing film and video industry?

Yes! A dynamic PATV operation would be a training-ground for student interns in video production, and also provide an opportunity for film/video professionals to share their expertise with students and the nonprofit community.

In addition, there's always the chance that locally-produced programs could gain national distribution via PBS or niche cable channels. For example, the popular "Austin City Limits" music program grew out of a PATV program and created new jobs and wealth for Austin, TX.

Many people believe that Asheville's "arts and crafts" culture could eventually produce a nationally-syndicated program.

 



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