#Local Government
Towns of Greece, Gates, Chili, Parma, Hilton, Ogden
United States of America

Have you ever watched Public Access Television and caught the latest Town Board meeting? Perhaps it was your child’s school play, or a graduation ceremony you shared with family and friends.

From community events to locally produced non-profit shows, art, instruction, educational or religious programming, Public Access Television has been there for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re Educable, and we’ve been providing quality cable broadcasting for over 25 years to your west side community.

You’ve come to rely on us, and now we need to rely on you. Public access programming has been threatened with control and censorship. Local governments are cash strapped and are diverting franchise fees to general tax revenues. By failing to the use franchise fees for their intended purposes, they have hurt local Public Access Television created for the people to provide a valuable, uncensored voice of the community. If public access is reduced to nothing more than an income base for the general fund, no local issues or broadcasts of items deemed unimportant or unwanted by elected officials would exist. Censorship and control undermine the basic mission of public access.

Each month on your Time-Warner cable bill, you are charged a “franchise fee” given to your local leaders for the operations of Public Access Cable. For nearly 2 years, the elected officials from the Towns of Greece, Gates, Chili, Parma, and Hilton have attempted to place the Public Access Television in the Greece Central School District, SUNY Brockport, and other parties to remove the open access the public has enjoyed for many years through Educable.

The aim is to take the public out of public access and make your public forum an adjunct to official business. This proposal had many difficulties and little support in the community. Questions raised about censorship and control of the public forum and the access of citizens to their access facilities, as well as questions of the appropriate use of school district funds meant for curriculum. Further, the construction of the television studio at Olympia was planned and carried out in stealth, without the approval of the school board or the public.

In the interim, the towns of Greece, Gates, Ogden and Chili have continued to use Educable as the administrator and provider of access services and facilities to residents in West side communities, yet have refused to pay any fees for these services. Much like other recent initiatives like the “FAIR” Plan and the Public Defender selection, our leaders appear to have an agenda that does not include the public.

Government has a fudiciary responsibility to provide public access facilities and services to residents. Every citizen has the right to submit and produce video for public broadcast. An organizational structure must be in place to fulfill these obligations. When the FCC regulated cable television they imposed these public interest obligations on cable companies and municipalities. Our towns have been malfeasant in their obligations to the community by negating their responsibility to provide open access channels.

The franchise fees provide generous revenue to the towns. The Town of Greece receives nearly $1,000,000 a year in franchise fees. The Town of Gates receives nearly $300,000. These fees are not a tax imposed on all taxpayers, but a fee the cable company charges to support public access television. You have the right to ask where your franchise fee money is going and how the money is being spent.

You have the right to expect your government to protect your best interests.

We, the undersigned, call on the Town Governments of Greece, Gates, Chili, Parma, Hilton, and Ogden to commit to and contractually agree to continue to allow Educable, who has provided quality broadcasting to our community for over 25 years, to continue to provide Public Access Television (PEG) to our communities.

We further request that the services that have been provided to us, for which our franchise fees were paid and allocated for such funding, be provided to Educable for the unpaid period that they have continued to provide services to the community in the true spirit of Public Access with no renumeration for their services.

We additionally request a full accounting of the allocation of the franchise fees that have been paid to each town named herein by Time-Warner Cable, including any contractual obligations or purchases these franchise fees have been used to offset.

Keep Public Access Television where it belongs - in the care, custody and control of the PUBLIC.

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The Keep Public Access Public - West Side Cable Operations Protest petition to Towns of Greece, Gates, Chili, Parma, Hilton, Ogden was written by LS247 and is in the category Local Government at GoPetition.