Public Cable Funding, Local Media Centers In Jeopardy
Arecent decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to withhold funds meant for public, educational and governmental (PEG) access services could impact access on Oahu, too, causing cutbacks in ‘Olelo Community Media channels and services, the closure of some media centers and staff layoffs, said Keali‘i Lopez, head of ‘Olelo Community Media.
“Having these funds with- held will require us to reduce or eliminate the number of media centers we have. They are available to the public as well as many elementary, middle and high schools, and we help people learn how to use media technology.” Around $1.7 million was withheld this year, Lopez said, and the 2010 cut is still unknown.
The DCCA was to announce its decision on Oceanic’s franchise renewal application on or before Dec. 31, and the new Oahu fran- chise was expected to go into effect Jan. 1.
Although the DCCA has already collected the PEG access funds from Oceanic Time Warner Cable in the form of franchise fees, it has decided not to lift a cap on the amount distributed to ‘Olelo Community Media. Since 2000,‘Olelo has had to make deep cuts in its reserves to support its services.
In fact, Lopez said, there’s a chance that Oahu could be left with only three public access channels.
“If these funds weren’t available, we wouldn’t have such an issue here, but they are,” she added. “ The alternative for ‘Olelo is to find new ways to generate revenues and alternate funding sources.”
Known for partnering with schools, ‘Olelo trains tomorrow’s leaders through programs such as its statewide Youth Xchange video competition for both public and private schools, youth dialogue on community issues and its after-school and summer media programs.
Starting in a smallKakaako facility in 1989, ‘Olelo Community Media has expanded to seven centers — Wahiawa (at Leilehua High), Kahuku/North Shore (at Kahuku High and Intermediate), Waipahu (at Waipahu Intermediate), Windward ( at King Intermediate), Palolo/Kaimuki (at Jarrett Intermediate), Waianae (at Waianae High) and Mapunapuna. Thousands of fledgling filmmakers, nonprofits and government agencies have mastered video production this way, creating more than 50,000 hours of original local programming, which strains the capacity of ‘Olelo’s six cable channels.
“The community media centers are critical in that they provide added resources for schools,” Lopez said.“It’s real- ly been a very productive partnership with the Department of Education, and we just want to make sure it continues to grow and serve the people of Oahu.”