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Weekly News From the President: A Look into North Carolina’s PEG Channels

BBQ + Access TV in Tarheel State

It’s been over a decade since the passage of North Carolina’s statewide cable franchise law. The law took local power away from cities and towns, and instituted a telecom tax that covers cable and satellite.  Some of that state tax money then flows back to PEG operations, so there’s been a modest amount of support for community television in the state since 2007.  As part of ACM’s outreach work, I visited PEG channels in North Carolina last week and got some perspectives on their work in 2018.

Raleigh Television Network has several PEG channels run by city government and includes public access training and facilitation at its site downtown.  I caught up with longtime director Karyn Thomas and her staff, including production assistant and trainer Chasidy Campbell.

East Wake Television serves a number of small communities east of Raleigh.  Executive Director Gary McConkey has cobbled together support from the State telecom tax to run meeting coverage for five cities AND produce local content for this mostly rural part of the county.

and has recently rebuilt and retooled its studios.  Executive Director Carson Riedel is now looking to expand content partnerships and documentary work in the Research Triangle area.

CabCoTV in Cabarrus County just north of Charlotte is perhaps the most surprising channel I visited. It’s a county government channel that creates a lot of diverse community content and has extremely good viewership numbers to show for it. It gets those numbers from citizen satisfaction surveys the county conducts every year (a useful tip you should steal if possible. David Baxter is looking to expand news content to serve the county more thoroughly, but he’s also interested in promoting content and viewership constantly.

Access21 is still holding forth in Charlotte.  I got a chance to catch up with Executive Director and longtime access activist John Rocco and get a tour of the facility.

Greensboro Community Television has a good arrangement with the city of Greensboro to be an anchor tenant in the local community arts center for $1 a year.  That arrangement has meant that Executive Director Jay Lambeth has been able to direct money to staffing.

All the people I met with are interested in getting more networking support in the state, and I’ll be looking at ways we can help keep the North Carolina channels up to date with professional developments both in-state and around the country.

Thanks again for the hospitality, Tarheel State!

A Tribute to Merlyn Reineke’s Work at Montgomery Community Media 

I was also honored this last week to be offered the opportunity to emcee a tribute to Merlyn Reineke’s work at Montgomery Community Media.  You may remember that Merlyn passed away late last year. His colleagues at MCM and in Montgomery County, MD gathered to commemorate his work at the organization.  You can see a video of the gathering here.

The Local Fix Weekly Newsletter 

If you’re interested in building news into your programming mix, or you’re trying to improve the news programming you’re doing now, you should subscribe to The Local Fix, the weekly newsletter from Josh Stearns and Teresa Gorman of The Democracy Fund. It’s a great collection of writing, advice and tools and resources for local news and well worth your time!

 

Sincerely,
Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO
The Alliance for Community Media