Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When Tough Questions Needed

When Tough Questions Needed

When an initiative needs positive promotion for public exposure where should it turn? Creative activists must explore every avenue for help by asking penetrating questions.

Should the tax paying public expect a public asset created through a legal agreement be used as the intent of that document set forth ? Well, if the public doesn't care to be bothered, if the Borough management sees this and acquiesces, or, if the present group of activists just doesn't know maybe it's the time to light the fire under you who care.

I'll lay out what I understand about an asset, PCTV, but you must also do your own investigating by asking questions from those in authority, but don't let them stonewall you, which has been their modus operandi in the past.

Cable television came to Pottstown when Comcast (or its predecessor) sought to exercise its right under the federal government's Cable Commission Act. They requested the Borough of Pottstown allow them to bring cable television here under a franchise agreement and Borough Council voted yes. 

The Cable Act stipulated each franchisee was granted three channels for their patron's informational use. One, for education ; second, for government ; third, for local programing. Pottstown contracted with a management company to operate these three channels which continues on into today.

Comcast collects through its billing program a fee or tax placed on each bill and transfers these funds to the Borough. These transfers are commonly referred to as fees the franchiser pays from its own coffers but, as I understand it, are really just customer charges going from you to the Borough through Comcast. 

Two things you should know : all the assets of PCTV are owned by the Pottstown Borough ; such as,  all hardware - cameras and their accessories, set decor,
electronics, furnishings, computers, taping needs, etc. Also, all the vehicles as they're equipped, plus all the archives are Boro owned. 

Secondly, under the original management agreement with, I believe, Maplewood Productions, and a parallel agreement with The Pottstown School District to lease space at the High School, PCTV was to provide lessons in television communication for high school students. If this was so, there should be numerous young adults more than able to help community activists in production and transmitting cable ready public interest shows. If not, why not !

Put the pieces together. The public owns the right to televise over three channels, the public owns the means to televise programing, the cable commission
federal act designates the three public interest areas, the borough controls what happens. One aside, as I questioned over the years, is the borough on solid legal ground when it allows our three public channels to carry advertisements for profit ?

I continue to believe our three TV channels should be used as designated by the government for the general public's interest rather than to be a means of the borough to sell advertising. For the benefit of the public, I suggest some organization interested in using this public access start asking tough questions.

Ronald C. Downie

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