“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Remember this from the Bill of Rights of the Constitution that we learned back in school. This is one of those things that we take for granted because we in the U.S. are such a free thinking, democratic society. Many countries around the world don’t have freedom of speech, let alone freedom of press; but we do and we are a remarkable country because of it.
Ok, enough of my philosophical rambling. The purpose of this blog is to reintroduce readers to a very important form of free speech that I feel is underutilized in this day and age. It was developed in the 1970s – a time in America in which people were roaring with passion for the right to demonstrate their Constitutional Rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. This development in television is known as Public Access Television.
For this blog, I am collaborating with Adrian Coleman-Tyler, who serves on the board of directors for People TV, to tell us more about this resource that many often forget about as an alternative way to “break in” to television.
Thank you Adrian for taking the opportunity to talk with us about Public Access Television – known in Atlanta as People TV. Adrian, for starters, tell us more about Public Access Television in Atlanta and how it can help those of us who want to begin a career in television.
People TV, Inc. (PTV) is an Atlanta based non-profit organization that manages the public access television channel for the City of Atlanta, Comcast Channel 24. Founded in 1986, PTV operates a media production center in Midtown Atlanta that houses two television studios, video and post production facilities. Our mission is to empower and encourage Atlanta residents and non-profit organizations to exercise their First Amendment rights and facilitate public engagement through the medium of television. In addition to managing the public access channel, PTV is an educational center offering low cost workshops in television and video production including non-linear editing and digital camera.
People TV is home to a diverse community of media makers. Many come to us with little or no video or television experience; still others are award winning filmmakers or working television professionals in search of a creative platform. Our producers reflect a diversity of backgrounds – cab drivers, broadcast journalists, graduate students, teenagers and grandmothers; but, they share the common goal to express their story, their way.
Tell us why People TV has been and is still such a big deal to the local Atlanta community.
People TV, like public access centers around the country, is where aspiring musicians, comedians, journalists, actresses, and video producers/directors come to get their start or develop their ‘reel’. In our 28 year history, Atlanta’s notables in every field (civil rights, politics, banking, education, religion, arts and more) have connected with People TV, Inc. in some way – taken a workshop, produced a TV program, appeared as a guest or host, served on the Board of Directors or volunteered to teach a workshop. As proud as we are of the who’s who, we’re equally proud of our volunteer producers who aspire simply to create programming to express their views, faith, art or culture and engage with Atlanta audiences.
What is the cost of producing programming on public access television or other services offered by People TV?
People TV, Inc. makes every effort to keep our fees affordable to keep our services accessible, most under $100. Atlanta residents are given priority access to the channel and our programs including workshops. Non-Atlanta residents may apply but availability may be limited and fees may be higher. Persons interested in our programs should visit our website for calendar of events.
How do viewers watch programming on People TV and how can those interested in being on People TV get involved?
Before I proceed with answering that question Melisha, I just want to say thanks to People TV viewers who have supported us for 28 years! Our goal in 2014 is to get Atlanta talking, spark dialogue and connect communities. Now to answer the first part of this question, in order to watch People TV, Comcast subscribers in the City of Atlanta may watch on Channel 24; or, viewers can opt to watch it online at our website www.peopletv.org.
To answer the second part of your question, People TV will be accepting programming applications for next channel season in May. Those who want to be considered can visit our website for upcoming workshops and events or check our programming guide. Viewers may also connect with People TV on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peopletvAtlanta
How is television like this sustained, i.e. through community support, sponsorship, etc.?
The City of Atlanta is fortunate to have had a history of progressive leadership who have supported public access television since the 1980’s for Atlanta residents. People TV, Inc. is supported primarily through a contract with the City of Atlanta, supplemented with community support, sponsorships and grants.
Thanks Melisha and WIFTA for your interest in People TV, Inc. In closing, I’d believe George Stoney, often referred as the “Father of Public Access Television” words best describe the value in public access television.
“We look on cable as a way of encouraging public action, not just access. Social change comes with a combination of use of media and people getting out on the streets or getting involved. And we find that if people make programs together and put them on the local channel, that gets them involved.”
Follow Women in Film and Television Atlanta on Twitter @wiftAtlanta