Buncombe County Kills Public Access TV
Press Release (April 25th, 2011)
with follow-up information
  to Present

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IS THIS THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC ACCESS TV?
 

Why Open Community Public Access
Cable Channels Exist?
Public Access TV and our First Amendment Rights

We the people are being disenfranchised from our 1st Amendment Rights to our Freedom of Expression as Public Access Cable Channels are being shut down across the country by County Governments.  The same thing that happened to the Public Access Cable Channel in Pinellas County Florida in 2007 happened here in Asheville Buncombe County in 2011 for the same nefarious reason.  Here is Pinellas County's story - does it sound familiar? Does it appear to be a master plan to silence our freedoms of expression as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to our Constitution?  Since 9/11 our freedoms have consciously been taken away by those who would silence and block our right to be heard by our fellow citizens in open community public access cable channel forums.
 

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BRIEF HISTORY OF PUBLIC ACCESS
CABLE CHANNELS IN THE USA

 

The Antidote to Apathy is not about us the citizen
but the barriers of intentional exclusion put in place to discourage us from participating in Asheville Buncombe County local government

 

FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
OF LOCAL CITIZENS ARE BEING TAKEN AWAY
IN THE NAME OF CUT-BACKS BY
LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Asheville Buncombe County Citizens ask,
"Where has our Public Access
Cable TV Channel Gone?"

Continue on for the full story of how a small community in Western North Carolina lost its public access cable TV channel.  Which was created to promote first amendment rights to freedom of expression - was killed by local government's politically motivated censorship.   Denying citizens the right to speak openly among themselves on issues and topics coming directly out of the community.

 
 

The Political Demise of
Community Public Access Cable Television

(WNC Community Media Center) in Asheville Buncombe County


Click radio to listen

Guests: Jonathan Czarny - WNCCMC Operations Manager
Terra Weaver - Citizen Media Center Video/Radio Producer
Broadcast - Asheville FM News Hour - July 28, 2011

 

Asheville Buncombe County
Information Filter Bubble

What we have here in Asheville Buncombe County is an informational filter-bubble which is also present on the Internet as an automated algorithmic gateway keeper to filter your need to know to be an informed citizen.

It's vital to our freedom of expression as citizens in the community to have an open public access cable channel were we can come forth to speak openly and freely among our fellow citizens without institutionalized and politicized informational filter-bubbles which restrict citizens participation to provide information of possible interest to our community.

 

Something to ponder this
4th of July

We must defend and protect our hard won freedoms
from within - from those who would deprive us of rights to freedom of expression from institutionalized commercial and politically motivated filtering
of our 1st Amendment Rights.

 

The headline for following article link should have read:

Local government destroys public access cable television

Local government destroys public access TV then reappears to save it with a disingenuous RFP which guarantees failure without the public's access cable channel.  Let’s hear it for our 1st amendment rights to freedom of expression in our community!

City, County call for public access proposals By David Forbes 06/28/2011

 

June 23, 2011

Its all about local media ownership and control of our need to know...

What voice do the people have in our community where any citizen can speak openly among their fellow citizens?

Do you think local media wants our community to have an open voice in our community to speak to issues and concerns without commercial media filtering?

Do you think local government wants citizens speaking out among themselves on their own public access cable channel - which is paid for by public utility right of ways access from commercial franchise fees paid by cable companies to have access to our homes?

Do you think these two groups want the citizens in the community to have a real voice to speak directly among themselves on issues and topics which may well be of interest to the community? 

Look around - where can you go as a citizen in this community to speak openly among your fellow citizens without the constraints of media for profit and local government machinations where you don't have a real opportunity to speak - to be heard  - to organize around an idea or observation that goes beyond narrow mainstream  interest by control of publicity?

Your public access cable TV channel is now on the ground – while citizens stand around in a circle watching it bleed-out while the County holds back funding which is mandated by national and state law.

Are we as a community going to ignore it by standing by or watching it die?

Are we as a community going to hold our County Commissioners accountable for killing the community’s only public access cable TV channel because a few are offended by what they see or hear?

Whatever happened to our 1st amendment rights to freedom of expression and our right to be informed - while a premeditated extermination of our open public cable access channel in Asheville Buncombe County takes place?

Are we witnessing our Constitutional freedoms dying before our  eyes as it bleeds out and runs out of time.  Our community is a small microcosm of what’s happening across our country.  Let’s stop it here where we as citizens of Asheville Buncombe County can turn this sinking ship around.  Change begins at the grass roots.

Find it hard to believehere's proof - see video and supporting information:

VIDEO: Change the Channels - Exposing Covert Media Consolidation
http://www.savethenews.org/change-channels
Anderson - Greenville - Spartanburg, SC - Asheville, NC
http://www.savethenews.org/changethechannels#!/markets/393/anderson-greenville-spartanburg-sc-asheville-nc
http://www.savethenews.org/changethechannels/market-detail/393/anderson-greenville-spartanburg-sc-asheville-nc

 

 

POINT OF VIEW - Public Comment Session
BCC Meeting - June 7, 2011

Q: Why is Asheville Buncombe County the only County out of 100 having funding issues with their
Community's Public Access Cable Channel?
 

 

Buncombe County Commissioner's Meeting
Subject: Asheville Buncombe County's
 Public Access Cable TV Channel Disposition

POINT OF VIEW - OBSERVATION
Something to Ponder...

The Buncombe County Commissioners (BCC) seem to be misinformed, misguided and disingenuous.

Now that the County stated its position through its chairman, take a look at the law and see where the majority of “public access TV” (PATV) channel funding actually comes from by comparing others like it in other communities in North Carolina. 

It is unrealistic to think a PATV cable channel can operate to serve the citizens of Asheville Buncombe County from the amount of funding the county claims to be set aside for PEG (Public, Educational, and Government) channels.  To make the point - you don't see any group from our community rushing forward - to take up the cause - it's fiducially unrealistic!  This whole situation is politically motivated gamesmanship being played out under the guise of budget cuts.

The County claims they want Public Access TV - but the reality is, through their actions, they do not want the citizens of Asheville Buncombe County to have a cable channel where citizens can speak directly among themselves on community issues.  How can there be an effective and efficient people’s government if there is no place for citizens to come together within the community to practice their 1st amendment rights to unfiltered freedom of speech among themselves which does not exist in our local mainstream media today?   How can we as citizens make our local government better and more accountable if we don't have an open platform for open citizen community dialogue so we can see, hear and feel each other’s concerns and issues? 

Ask the County about the 7.5% sales tax added to everyone’s cable bill after the transition from local to state cable franchise agreements where the state funds PEG and the communities Public Access Cable Channel through the Video Programming Tax Revenue sent back to the County for distribution to same.

Now the clock is running out for the county who is about to lose Video Programming State Sales Tax Revenue for the County by not having a certified PATV cable channel for PEG in place by July.

Today, if we have stayed informed, we are witnessing the country's transformation into a Corptocracy where our most sacred constitutional tenants are being monetized at the demise of our constitutional democratic republic - of the people - by the people.  It's time we take back our government from those, in the guise of budget cuts, who would take away our rights which silences and enslaves our freedom of speech to allow us to speak directly among ourselves in addressing issues and topics of interest in our community.

 

Press Release from BCC
stating BCC position on WNCCMC contract and funding
(Click image or link just below to open document PDF file)


http://www.educateyou.com/bccprwnccmc.pdf

  

The WNC Community Media Center’s public access cable channel position is as follows:

 

ITEM #1: Response to Reference from BCC Press Release:
“…there is no contract with WNC Community Media Center, Inc.”

Image below taken directly from contract between Buncombe County and WNCCMC

(Click image or link just below to open actual contract document as PDF file)


http://www.educateyou.com/bccagreewwnccmcpubrecserchable.pdf

Go to "Section 19. Extension of Agreement" for above quoted.

  

ITEM #2: Response to Reference from BCC Press Release:
“…there is no directive…concerning division of…funds among qualifying…access channels….”
Image below taken directly from “State-Collected Local Taxes: Basis of Distribution – prepared by the NC League of Municipalities” – March 2010

(Click image or link just below to open actual document as PDF file)


http://tinyurl.com/ncdorformula -
NOTE: Reference quote above can be found under
“Local Video Programming Revenues” – bottom of page 4 – left column.

Also, note right column on page 4 addresses additional “PEG Channel Supplemental Funding”  distribution.


Here are other links reaffirming our position:

North Carolina General Statutes § 105-164.44I
http://law.onecle.com/north-carolina/105-taxation/105-164.44i.html
Distribution of part of sales tax on video programming service
and telecommunications service to counties and cities
 

URTV Article - Local Paper - Mountain Xpress - May 3, 2011
Dueling for dollars
County, WNCCMC continues face-off over PEG funding
http://www.mountainx.com/news/2011/050411dueling-for-dollars

 

WNC Community Media Center / URTV website:
wnccmc.com

 

WNC Community Media Center
Board of Directors
Meet in Executive Session
tonight May 12, 2011 @ 6:30pm
WNCCMC/URTV Studios
31 College Place - Suite 20A
(828) 255-8488 x102

 

Posting from Facebook
"WNC Community Media Center Producers"
May 13, 2011

Last night the board of directors for the WNC Community Media Center voted to close down studio operations while keeping the cable channel alive. This action was taken to drastically reduce operating cost as a result of severe budget constraints in funding by local government - in order to keep the communities public access cable TV channel alive in our community. This decision was painful for us not only as a board but as fellow citizens in our community. Before this decision was made alternative ideas for resolution were presented and discussed at length. But in the final analysis studio operations could not be maintained without a reliable ongoing stream of funding to maintain the studio complex whole and complete.

Click image below to open PDF file of
Official Press Release of Studio Closing
May 16, 2011


http://www.educateyou.com/urtv/prmay162011.pdf


Why has Asheville Buncombe County decided to monetize our
1st amendment rights to freedom of expression for
the citizen's open access cable TV channel?
Who Wins?
Who Loses?
What's the greater tragedy?

SOMETHING TO PONDER:

Why is that the contractor (URTV/WNC Community Media Center) that provided in 2010 over $1,000,000 of documented community media service value to Asheville Buncombe community for the Counties $104,000 on a declared budget  under $225,000 being vilified?

Why did they not terminate contract with just performance cause, or hold public hearing as to future funding for public access in Buncombe county?

Go to:
http://www.wnccmc.com
for proof of performance information.

It appears obvious from the actions above the county made a conscious decision to under fund the media center.

The contractor under this political assault was not able to continue to provide core services as defined in contract and state PEG laws, which led to the politically motivated submission to the county by the contractor and ultimate termination of services due to disingenuous actions.

Perhaps the question to put to the County now is, "If not WNCCMC (who provided all of the above services) then where is the money going?  If not WNC Community Media Center - then who ? What are the reasons for the termination of funds as per contract and law? The citizens of Asheville Buncombe County have the right to a public access cable TV channel as stipulated by law.

NOW THE CLOCK IS RUNNING OUT

Now the clock is running out for the County who is about to lose their Video Programming State Sales Tax Revenue for not having a certified PATV cable channel for PEG in place by July.  Also, as a side note, the cable subscriber's bill for PEG went from 43 cents per household to a flat 7.5% state sales tax on all cable bills.  As these taxes went up - our community's freedom of expression was taken away in the guise of budget cuts.



Also, it has been said - not verified by proof of contract to date - the cable providers (Charter / AT&T) can take back their cable channels for Public Access Television if there is no broadcast signal present for 60 days and use for their own purposes.  The channel went blank approximately May 23rd, 2011.  Another clock for the County to consider in deciding to fund PATV as stipulated by law and contract.

The PEG channels were provided to the community by local franchise agreements with the County (which are now done at the State level)  by the cable company's at no cost to the citizens of Asheville Buncombe County in exchange for the use of "Public Right of Ways" to run the cable company's cable lines on power poles throughout our community.

If our County Commissioners don't get on the stick we will be locked out as a community from our freedom of expression in having a place for citizen's to practice their 1st amendment rights to freedom of expression on their public access cable channel.  As you can see, there is much more going on behind the curtain than what our elected officials are willing to reveal to us.  It's a smoke screen of evisceration to the real game being played against the citizens of Asheville Buncombe County.

 

North Carolina's PEG supplemental fund increases from $2 million to $4 million beginning in July 2011

Counties and municipalities must file to become
certified by July 15, 2011.


The N.C. Department of Revenue reported that revenue from the telecommunications sales tax established by the VSCA had generated more funds than originally anticipated and that local governments were realizing greater revenues from the sales tax. North Carolina's PEG supplemental fund will increase from $2 million to $4 million beginning in July 2011.

To qualify for N.C.'s PEG supplemental fund, each local government must file to certify its PEG channels by July 15, 2011 with the North Carolina Secretary of Revenue. Once certified, each PEG channel is entitled to a share of the PEG supplemental fund, which is a set amount of funding the General Assembly, has established to assist PEG channels.

A PEG channel must meet all of the following conditions in order to become certified:
  1. The PEG channel must be provided to the certifying local government under:
    • A State cable franchise issued after January 1, 2007, pursuant to SL 2006-151; or
    • A local cable franchise agreement that was in effect on January 1, 2007; or
    • A local cable franchise that expired before January 1, 2007, if the cable service provider still provided cable service to subscribers in the franchise area on January 1, 2007;
  2. The PEG channel must have operated for at least ninety (90) days during the 10-11 fiscal year;
  3. The channel must have delivered at least eight hours of programming a day during the 10-11 fiscal year;
  4. The PEG channel must have delivered at least six (6) hours forty-five (45) minutes of non-character-generated programming a day during the 10-11 fiscal year; and
  5. The PEG channel must have repeated no more than fifteen percent (15%) of the content of any other PEG channel provided to the city or county during the 10-11 fiscal year.


Read the statute on the North Carolina General Assembly website.

WHERE TO START

Download the form to file for 2011 Cable PEG Channel Certification.

Download instructions for filing.

More information about the PEG supplemental fund and certification:

North Carolina Department of Revenue
Local Government Unit
PO Box 871
Raleigh, NC 27602-0871
Phone: (919) 733-7736
FAX: (919) 715-6337

E-mail: localgovt_informationunit@dornc.com 


 

NOTE: Information will be added to this page as it becomes available.