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CityVisions' Planet 53 Access Awards 1997

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  • Planet 53 Access Awards 1997
    Project Credits:  Director/DP of Opening Roll In, Lighting and Set Designer, Production Supervisor and Master Control/VTR Operator

    Production Facilitator, 1997-1999
    AT&T Broadband Services/TCI, CityVisions, Channel 53
    1855 Folsom Street, San Francisco, 94142

    Provided and actively developed participation by the residents, non profits, community based organizations, youth groups and organizations within the City in the use of public access facilities and equipment and other electronic media in fulfillment of the CIty's desire to make Public Access programming available for the residents and cable subscribers of San Francisco.


    Received Access Award for staffing services, Olympic Trophy for "Going the ExtraMile!"
  • The theme of the Access Awards 1997 was "Planet 53: A TV Odyssey."  The opening roll in is a take-off from Stanley Kubrick's and Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 epic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The final 30 seconds of the opening roll in, where ballots are falling from the sky with TV noise in the background, was designed to slow dissolve into the live studio location.  This effect was then subsequently reused against a blue screen every time a guest made an entrance on stage, keying the guest in, as if the guest were being teleported from a remote location to Planet 53.  The main stage can be seen below.  When no one is being teleported, the white scrim is in a down position, allowing for colorful lighting to be displayed.  When a guest is about to be teleported into the program, the white scrim is pulled up to reveal the blue screen, allowing for special effects to take place.
  • About PEG and Public Access
    Local public, educational and governmental access (“PEG”) channels began in the early 1970s, as a “trade-off” offered to cities by the emerging cable television industry during franchise negotiations. PEG channels would be locally operated cable channels that would take advantage of the new medium’s potential to become an “electronic soapbox” to encourage expression of a wide range of local viewpoints. As the channels evolved, the “E” (education) and “G” (government) channels focused on those respective topic areas, while the “P” channels provided free airtime and access to video production facilities to any member of the public, regardless of the speaker’s message.  PEG channels differ from “public broadcasting” or PBS channels. PBS channels operate under a non-commercial broadcasting license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, and are available to viewers as an over-the-air channel, as well as on cable and DBS satellite services. PEG channels are available only on cable services (although they increasingly are becoming available as webcasts on the Internet).

    Public Access in San Francisco
    Because PEG channel requirements are developed primarily to meet local needs and interests, the organization and operating structures of these channels vary widely from city to city. The City of San Francisco has negotiated PEG channel requirements in its franchise agreements with Comcast and Astound Broadband, currently requiring six channels, two each dedicated for Public, Educational and Government purposes. The public access channels air throughout the City on Comcast Cable channels 29 and 76, Astound Broadband channels 29 and 30 and AT&T channel 99.

    Prior to September 1999, the public access channels were operated by AT&T, and branded as CityVisions.  
    From September 1999-June 30, 2009, because of changes to the franchise agreement between the city and local cable operators, the operation of the channels went to the Community Television Corporation under a Grant Agreement with the city and the name of the channels changed to Access SF.  Since July 2, 2009 the City’s public access channels have been operated by Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) and is now known as SF Commons.

    For more information about SF Commons:
    http://www.bavc.org/sfcommons