June 19, 2019

Princeton Citizens for PCTV Ask Council Not to Defund

To the Editor:

We are about to lose a remarkable public resource that offers viewers the opportunity to comment on issues, events, and news relevant to the community. Princeton Community Television is going to go dark. As a free community access channel that airs programming created locally, PCTV not only offers Princeton residents an outlet to express their views on local issues, but unlike YouTube, the internet and Twitter, provides a physical space where they can meet, collaborate, and organize. It builds community. Media experts George Gerbner  (“The Cultivation Theory”), Tim Wu (“The Attention Merchant”) and Philip M. Napoli (“What Happens When Your Local News is Coming from Another State?”) concur that public participation is key to keeping democracy strong. The intent was to offset the power of cable conglomerates that often set the national agenda with little or no oversight.

PCTV (originally TV30) was launched in the mid 1980s. Funding was and still is derived from cable companies who are required by law to donate a portion of their revenues (franchise fees) to provide facilities and airtime that allow the public to speak it mind.  Franchise fees are part of the cost residents who subscribed to cable television, pay. Until this year, those fees have been used to fund PCTV.

According to our mayor, “PCTV is relatively unique.” Why then would you not keep it?  In this era of cable-dominated news, the public’s voice has faded. Grassroots community empowerment is needed even more for democracy to thrive. To shut down PCTV, a place that affords face to face collaborative programming, seems counterproductive to this goal.

Please tell the town Council to reconsider defunding PCTV.

Bainbridge Street

Brooks Bend

Herrontown Road

Leabrook Lane

Stuart Road

Bainbridge Street

Olden Avenue