Pub­lic Ca­ble Fund­ing, Lo­cal Me­dia Cen­ters In Jeop­ardy

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Front Page - By JES­SICA GOOLSBY

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.”

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