Public Access TV (PEG) is a matter of law, created by the FCC in 1961-1971 and mandated under the 1984 Cable Communications Act.

Public channels were set up to provide access for people who otherwise would not have a voice, however Spectrum is proposing to displace channels 49, 53, 54 and 55 into high-numbered channels which may be inaccessible to the public.

If relocation is done, community groups, neighborhood boards, public interest groups, educational groups, the Legislature and others will be effectively silenced, significantly limiting free speech. Further, for a family with multiple TVs, a cable box will be needed for each TV, limiting access again.

Our neighborhood boards record their monthly meetings on Olelo Community Media, and this enables the community to be a part of the solution to neighborhood problems.

The Legislature broadcasts a selected number of hearings which help folks learn about pending bills even if they cannot attend the sessions, and the public is able to see the important legislative sessions including opening day, at home.

Individual producers present programs on issues one will never see in the news. Prospective legislators get to give a 5-minute talk about their platforms, something only the most favored and front-running candidates get to do in the commercial media.

Senate Bill 36 was introduced by Sen. Roz Baker, amended as SB 36 SD2, and voted out by a majority of 25-0 before its journey to the House recently.

The bill asks the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to be empowered to regulate all channel designations, and the relocation of public, educational and government access channels; and to make certain concessions such as financing public informational notices.

In the House, the bill was given a triple referral, unlike the Senate’s single referral, which means if it is not heard this week, it is dead; and which indicates it is not looked upon favorably by the House.

Why Won’t This Bill Be Heard?

This is an important bill. Although not a matter of life and death, it affects many people and organizations in the community. It is an issue that the Legislature should make a priority, because many folks spend a great deal of effort producing shows on Olelo. Our system of public access TV is envied by states across the nation.

Olelo patrons vie annually for coveted slots on the network. Olelo producers work hard, and the staff at Olelo is dedicated and concerned. Why would the bill not be heard?

As an Olelo producer for almost 20 years, I am shocked that there is no support for Olelo being shown in the House. I started out filming shows in legislative offices, and when the mini-studios began, it was so wonderful to be able to record shows in a professional atmosphere and to see the product that was not only seen on TV but also put up on olelo.org.

This is an important bill. It affects many people and organizations in the community.

During my time as a producer, I have interviewed community members, nonprofit heads, school principals, students and teachers, women advocates, politicians, nurses, physicians, puppeteers, authors, weathermen and advocates for any number of issues. I have developed a viewership over several years which looks for me on channel 54.

If Spectrum prevails, this, I fear, will end.

But wait. There is still time. The bill can be re-referred, and an opportunity given for the many community persons and producers and private citizens who have flooded the email and phones at the offices of the chair of the House Intrastate Commerce Committee — Rep. Takashi Ohno — to testify. Spectrum, a near monopoly, is trying to shed its responsibility and move public access channels to the highly inaccessible end point of their channels without public input.

Please don’t let them do that. Hear the bill! Tell your representatives.

Or legislators, tell us why you are not hearing a bill which means so much to so many? Tell us why you are allowing Spectrum to make this change without making some concessions for the Olelo viewers and clients to maintain their voice?

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