By Martin Anaya
of course, the oldest Community TV station in the US. As such, we have been on the forefront of education about P.E.G., actually even
setting many of the precedents which help to define P.E.G stations. So, what is Peg?
short for Public, Education and Government programming. This means that we either produce or facilitate programs in the public
interest which fall into one of these three categories. It’s a very important mission but perhaps a bit dry for
today's media landscape. So how do we describe the value of PEG? Well, let’s look at another example.
industry likes to pat itself on the back for creating and funding C-SPAN, the national cable channel that brings gavel
to-gavel coverage of the senate and US House of representatives proceedings. This is advertised as "Public Access to the political
process" and is seen as an alternative, indeed a "revolutionary" alternative to the world of entertainment driven television.
to authors Stephan Frantzich and John Sullivan, in their book, "The C-Span Revolution", the Cable created network has "revolutionized"
TV from a method of entertainment delivery to a method of unfiltered information delivery. They even call this transformation
a "radical" idea.
it wasn't always this way. Long ago, the Federal Communications Commission was chartered to require broadcasters to operate
in the "Public Interest". While it seems the standards of what is considered "Public Interest" have become
somewhat elastic over the years, the truth is that in the very early days, TV was sold to the public as a method of information
delivery; a means to tie together the local culture throgh public, education and government affairs programs. The "golden era" of TV as it is now known was punctuated with insightful news and informational programs
like "Face the Nation", and Edward R Murrow's "See It Now". Even entertainment seemed educational, as in the 1957 re-creation
of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" or programs like "Playhouse 90" and "Kraft Television Theatre".
C-Span is less of a radical, revolutionary idea than a 'reversionary" idea, a reversion to the way it
used to be. Still, when Brian Lamb and friends invented C-SPAN, their mission of making government more
available to its citizens was actually radical for its time.
if the Cable Companies are responsible for the national C-Span, who handles the local? After all, there are many levels of
local government that should also be just as “radically” transparent right? There are many rising political stars
who should be just as eager to have their views and opinions expressed. No? And certainly, there is hunger for local audiences
to see and hear their local concerns being addressed. Yes? Therefore, any attribute one may ascribe to C-Span on a national
level one may also ascribe to P.E.G. on the local level.
a more transparent democracy
a forum for public views and opinion about the body politic.
Community togetherness and opportunities to engage elected leaders.
space for local culture and art to flourish.
First amendment to the U.S. constitution is of course what established our right to free speech as law.
It fosters open debate, better political decisions and "social tolerance"
as Professor Lee Bollinger describes it; that we all may be more accountable and civil to one another.
first amendment was adopted on December 15th 1791, long before the era of electronic
communications. So what did freedom of speech look like back then? In most cases it quite literally meant that one could jump
on an apple crate in the town square and speak.
fast-forward two hundred and twenty years later and let’s ask ourselves the question again, "what is Freedom of Speech
in the 21st century?" What does freedom look like in this electronic brave new world. If Video killed the radio star, then
what in fact will kill video? More importantly, will we, the people be at the effect of it, or at the wheel of it?
no mistake; the big media corporations will retain pre-eminence by keeping their place on the basic cable spectrum and
trying to squeeze the common man and woman out. So where is the voice for the common folk? If
we think of these companies as “developers” who use our public rights of way to build private business on real-estate that we own, then we can look at P.E.G. as our electronic “green-space”.
internet slowly begins to resemble TV and vice-versa, greater pressure will be placed to fsqueeze the common voice and transfer
traditional cable space for more industry use. This, of course is already happening in the case of ATT's cable product, "U-verse".
And Satellite operators pay no “right-of-way’ fees to local government at all,
nor are they required to carry P.E.G. stations like PCT.
do we need? We need a revolution…a PEG revolution just like the one C-Span saw several years ago. Who now can imagine
cable TV without C-Span? Must be heresy to even think it, right? Well, friends, that’s what we need in the P.E.G. world.
We need a revolution, the like of which will see a sea-change in Washington that allows greater
freedom of speech and allows local voices a place at the table.
go through this elections season, keep something in mind. Many in power profit when those without have no voice. But society
profits greatly when all have access to freedom of speech and equality. Again, what we need is a revolution, a PEG revolution.
can you help? For starters, you can put your money where your mouth is. If you believe these resources at PCT are vital then
call us today and pledge an amount, any amount. As we go, there will be other ways to help. For now, do what you can and help
us grow this idea, this notion that ”Truth, Freedom and independence in TV”, as my good friend Bruce Latimer calls
it, really matters.
and pledge today: 650-355-8001
us at: pacificaTV@sbcuc.net
us online at: www.PCT26.com