Studio Coordinator, 1999-2001
San Francisco Community Television Corporation (CTC), Local Cable Channel 29
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.
From September 1999 until June 30, 2009, the City’s public access channels were operated by a nonprofit entity, San Francisco Community Television Corporation (“CTC”) under a Grant Agreement with the city. The public access station was renamed “Access SF” . Prior to 1999, under management of AT&T, public access was known as "CityVisions". According to its by laws, CTC’s stated purpose was “to promote, encourage, facilitate and oversee the use of public interest and public benefit mass media and telecommunications to serve the needs of citizens, civic organizations, government entities, cultural and arts organizations; to promote diversity of viewpoints, voices and freedom of expression in San Francisco; to train individuals and nonprofit organizations to produce high quality video programming of interest to the community.”
As a preliminary matter, SFCTC deserves acknowledgement for achieving a number of significant milestones during the Grant term: