Victor Hugo and the C.A.T. Contract | Street Jazz

Victor Hugo and the C.A.T. Contract

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Though I’m pretty sure that there are members of the current city administration who are befuddled by what they see as my antipathy concerning their approach to Community Access Television, and probably suspect that I am am feeling personally hostile towards them personally (which is not the case), it is largely because they are not looking through the same window that I am.

Taken as a given that there is no particular malevolence towards C.A.T. from everyone involved, how can such dramatically different viewpoints emerge?

I won’t attempt to speak for the city staff, or the elected officials whose job it is to watch over them. I will just speak for my own attitude, and why I believe they are driving perilously close to the edge of the cliff on this matter.

Victor Hugo once wrote that we must think of the future as well as the present when we govern. And this is where I feel that the city’s attitude towards C.A.T. - and even towards such institutions as the Telecommunications Board - is poor government.

What we see is the concept of someone (or several someones) who don’t actually understand the world of public access television trying to take a hammer and chisel and remaking it in their own image. It hasn’t been called People’s Revolutionary Television without a good reason.

It’s wild, exciting, unpredictable. The programming doesn’t appeal to everyone all the time. But then, like the weather, the programming changes dramatically several times over the course of a day. If you don’t like what’s on now, you may well find something to suit your liking in an hour or so.

It’s rarely boring or bland, and the folks who make it - our fellow citizens - are rarely boring or bland.

Of course, over the years, access television has always had to fend off the efforts of those who would corrupt it, and turn it into some sort of “arts” channel.

So how does Victor Hugo come into the C.A.T. contract?

Very simply. By not respecting process - and this means bringing the Telecom Board fully into the process - city staff has created a dangerous precedent.

Bit by bit, the new contract has corrupted the traditional image of public access in Fayetteville. Whether by the oddly anal retentive mandates about bulletin boards or interfering with the creative life-force of the organization (banning creative folks from out-of-town) the city, which would tearfully maintain that it has only been “tweaking,” has created the first tiny breaths of what may one day be a whirlwind in this community.

The current city administration, with its trappings of being “progressive,” sees itself as the Good Guys, the ones in the White Hats who will be there for us when the chips are down.

Don’t worry, they assure us, access (and by extension the Government Channel) are safe as long as they are here.

Yes, but they won’t always be here, will they?

Imagine another Fred Hanna, and a city council of Fred Hannas, who don’t see the need to “waste” money on these services. The path has already been laid for them to follow, though today it is a small one.

We govern with the future in mind.

What future was in mind with this new contract? Or was the future even in mind at all? Was the next adminstration, a possibly far more conservative administration, even in the minds of those who wrote the contract?

Or was it just their personal prejudices towards C.A.T. that drove this particular contract?

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Quote of the Day

Some people glow really early, in their twenties and thirties, then in their fifties they are not doing as much. But I feel that growing up and maturing, constantly maturing - aging is the impolite way of saying it - I like to think there is an expansion going on philosophically. - Clint Eastwood

rsdrake@cox.net

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