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The Case for Community Access to Media By the Seattle Community Access Network Board

    A recent article in a local Seattle daily reported that sexually explicit materials being broadcast on “public access” television are not obscene. This raises the question of what is public access and why would a public television station allow what many in the community find offensive to air?”

    Cable public access television is the only public, non-commercial media space that allows all of the voices of a community to be heard. The program producers are YOU – your neighbors, coworkers and friends. Often, their primary desire is to help their own community of interest realize its voice. As citizens, we are entitled to present what we wish and moreover, most of what we want to say is protected speech under the 1st amendment. Sometimes, it is to present an opposing idea, sound an alarm or provoke the viewer. This is the sound and the color of a true democracy of voices. They are sometimes not pretty, refined or sanitized to meet all viewer needs.

 These provisions were included to protect freedom of speech and localism through local access to media thus ensuring a diversity of programming. In many ways, Congress was visionary. They could not have foreseen in 1934 that media would become mega-conglomerate entities; that commercial interests would largely control media distributed speech; and that local programming would be usurped by national distribution of programming over satellite.

We encourage all community residents and groups to learn to utilize this media effectively. We encourage young people to use these technologies to present their own ideas and perspectives – unsanitized and unedited. We encourage the artists, the analysts, believers and agnostics to state their ideas – whatever form they take.