Public Access and Revisionist History | Street Jazz

Public Access and Revisionist History

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I've been reading over the Request for Proposal (RFP) for Public Access Services, put out by City Hall, which is part of the process that the public access provider must go through every year before the contract is granted. It is a good process, over all. This year, though, there are couple of interesting items in it that the general public may not be aware of.

There is what can only be described as looaded language in the section marked:

SECTION B: SCOPE OF SERVICES AND GENERAL INFORMATION: Background of the City of Fayetteville, Ar., as it begins with lovely paragraph about the general beauty of Fayetteville, and how we continue to be recognized nby national organizations, etc.

It goes to on to talk about how the City and the current city government believe strongly in providing a public access channel. A short thumbnail history of public access is provided, giving pretty much all the credit to the City, and mentions not at all the citizens of Fayetteville who came together and persuaded the City of Fyatteville to provide the first access channel, Fayetteville Open Channel.

It all seems like it was a gift from a magnanimous city governmenment.

And then we really go off on a tear.

First we read of the "award-winning Government Channel", and then a description of the Education Channel. The Education Channel is described as "operated by the University of Arkansas (uatv) and shared with the Fayetteville School District (fayar.tv)."

And then the writer veers off the Informational Highway, and begins driving on the shouolder of the road:

"The Education Channel has been operated in a very satisfactory manner with no expense to the City, and management and operations have presented no controversies or problems for the City, the community, or citizens."

Say what? I guess the writer has never availed themselves of some of some of the past criticism of the Education Channel, which can be found in Telecomm records. Or maybe it just didn't suit the writer's purpose to bring any of that up.

The line, however, as much fun as it is to read, is prejudicial against any and all access providers in Fayetteville over the past 30 years. One can play word games and claim that it does not specifically mention public access, or C.A.T., but the clear inference is there.

In fact, any person with an actual knowledge of public access television would find it offensive, as it pretty much describes EVERY access station in the history of public access television at some point or another. If the City ever decided to run public access, it would CERTAINLY at some point come to describe the city operation.

Which leads us to another, far more fascinating point. Public access in Fayetteville has been provided by the same provider since 1992. Access 4 Fayetteville took over from Fayetteville Open Channel that year, and layter changed its name to Community Access Television.

Yet not one word in the fascinating Background page even mentions the citations and honors that C.A.T. has been accorded over the years, save for one brief line about how C.A.T. "Currently" operates the channel. No mention is made of the fact that C.A.T. has generally exceded contract requirements set by the city of Fayetteville, or the quality of many of its productions, or the thousands of Fayetteville citizems who have utilized access over the oast three decades.

Some of the honors have come from the City of Fayettevillle itself, as well as from the State of Arkansas. Ah well, who needs to know that kinda stuff? Except, maybe, people interested in making an informed decision?


Instead, the reader is is informed that:

"Many cities around the nation operate their own Public Access Channel with city staff in the same manner that the City of Fayetteville currently operates the Government Channel."

In fact, this sentence comes even before letting us know who the current provider is.

It makes it difficult to believe that the writer of the "background" has ever set foot inside the PEG Center, doesn't it?

The most clear inference to be drawn here is that whoever wrote this has their own agenda.

Be nice to know who wrote this, wouldn't it?

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The Great Access War

While the virtues of a city-run access system are brought up, no mention at all is made of the fact that the Great Access War in the early 1990s began when folks became convinced that rhge city of Fayetteville wanted to wrest public access away from the hands of citizens and run it themselves.

Though that fear turned out to be groundless at the time, it would be a bitter irony if, 18 years later, someone at the city level decided that all of that had somehow happened in an alternate universe, and that citizens would now think it would be just dandy if the city came to control one of the most popular programs in the city of Fayetteville.

******

Quote of the Day

The convention which framed the Constitution of the United States was composed of fifty-five members. A majority were lawyers-not one farmer, mechanic or laborer. Forty owned Revolutionary Scrip. Fourteen were land speculators. Twenty-four were money-lenders. Eleven were merchants. Fifteen were slave-holders. They made a Constitution to protect the rights of property and not the rights of man,: Senator Richard Pettigrew - Triumphant Plutocracy (1922)

rsdrake@cox.net

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