September 11, 2019

Former Resident, PCTV Board Chair Misses Community TV After Move

To the Editor:

I am a former board of trustees chair of Princeton Community TV, and am writing in support of the town continuing to fund the station. The bulk of PCTV’s funding goes toward supporting the creation of original programming that serves the local community. In these times when local media outlets are vanishing because they are no longer commercially viable, PCTV provides a unique outlet that will only become more important as other local sources of information dry up. The state of our democracy is already perilous, and we need to preserve (and preferably expand) independent, local voices such as those fostered by PCTV.

The cable franchise fees that the NJ Board of Public Utilities passes on to municipalities are paid by cable subscribers, as part of the bundle of services they pay for each month. They are not taxes paid by the general public. As such, diverting the funds into the general municipal budget for unrelated purposes robs the cable subscribers of the important services that PCTV provides. Moreover, the general public, even those not paying for cable subscriptions, also benefits from PCTV activities since PCTV programs are available (for free) online. So continuing to fund PCTV with the fees paid by cable subscribers is a win-win that serves the entire community.

Since serving on the PCTV board, I have moved to Bordentown where there is no local public access TV station. It is a lovely town, but it is a struggle to find media outlets that connect the community together. A station comparable to PCTV is something that I miss. If Princeton moves to pull the plug on this valuable asset, I fear that Joni Mitchell’s lyric will be all too apropos: “Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone.”

Dan Preston