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Weekly News From the President- What’s Next for Access in Tucson?

This last weekend, longtime community television leaders Access Tucson in Tucson, AZ announced they will be closing their doors.  Lisa Horner, who’s been fighting to keep the organization strong the last several years published the announcement. In it, she describes the challenges ahead for civic communication that serves the community – not just public access television – in Tucson.

It’s upsetting to think a place like Access Tucson which has been such an exemplar of community service for over thirty years is going dark. But what’s particularly disturbing to me and many PEG advocates around the country is that the City of Tucson gets over $3 million dollars a year in franchise fees, and is looking to spend less than a tenth on BOTH Public Access provision and Government Access channel services.

How did they get to this place? Bad state law passed a decade ago increased the reliance of Access Tucson on city government funding and forced reductions in staff and services. A terrible economy and poor budget choices by the city have continued budget crises at the local level even though much of the economy has now rebounded from the 2008 economic crisis. And a lack of political vision and connection to community needs now seems to be driving decisions that will reduce information choices and expression for citizens.

So it’s hard to know what to say about the $300,000 RFP the City of Tucson has now put out for both Government Access coverage, Public Access operations AND workforce training AND promotional videos to market the City. This budget might be adequate for a community a tenth the size of Tucson. Cities of over a half million deserve better and have greater needs.

There is hope for community media in Tucson, and Lisa Horner tells me their group (and others who may bid for the RFP) is evaluating their options and they appreciate the support and advice of ACM member organizations across the U.S. Hopefully we can help ensure community media survives in Tucson.


I hope you join us this Wednesday at 3pm ET for our webinar on building successful Youth Media programs. It’s free to members and member organizations of ACM. Longtime Youth Media maven Antoine Haywood from PhillyCAM is assembling a group of experts to take your questions and help build your community service! You can register here. And mark your calendars to join us June 24 @ 3pm ET when we talk about building blocks for successful fundraising.


And while you’re at it, be sure to register now to join me at the ACM National Conference in Pasadena CA August 12-14. Online registration is now open and you can start planning your time at the Conference. Go here to register and get updates:

I hope to see you in Pasadena!