When I first saw this bill, my only reaction was a flood of questions that came to mind. I haven’t had time to get all the answers to my questions. But I do see some possible negative consequences should this bill be enacted in its present form.
Basing my comments on what I know about ‘Olelo’s operations, if the funds available were to be divided equally among the three entities of PEG, and ‘Olelo left to administer the Public part of the program, I believe that the Public access portion would suffer greatly. Government, and Education departments have buildings, staff, and other resources that can be used to supplement the share they receive. The Public access part of it has only the funds that come from the cable companies and whatever fees they may collect to support the program. I believe the situation would be the same for Maui’s Akaku.
There is the argument for the flexibility that the present arrangement allows . There can be a combining of resources to meet the goals of two of the entities for example, or for a brief time, there may be a need for putting in more resources toward one of the entities.
I remember way back in the early 90’s, I believe it was, when telecasting of legislative proceedings was just any idea. ‘Olelo instituted a pilot 2-year program of telecasting selected legislative proceedings. It paid for all costs and the public was given the opportunity to view these proceedings on television for the first time. This meets the goal of bringing government closer to the people, and at the same time, the individual views of people and organizations testifying on the different issues are made available to the audience. At the end of the two years, the League and other groups lobbied for the continuation of this program using public funds and ‘Olelo’s resources and through even the leanest of years, we have had some of the legislative proceedings brought into the living rooms of our state.
We need to remember that the Public access part of the PEG program, the closest counterpart of which might be the Letters to the Editor columns of newspapers and magazines, is about the only forum provided for individual members of the public and groups to telecast their messages to the public. Newspapers and magazines might select those which they publish, but the public access stations must accept all. It is the public’s soap box, and as such, it can be misunderstood.
I remember a discussion I had with a friend years ago who was criticizing the quality of the programs seen on ‘Olelo in comparison with those seen on PBS. I had to explain to her the difference in the missions of the two organizations. One was aimed at bringing quality programming to the public. The other was providing the forum, and the resources needed to help individuals and groups deliver their messages to the public, and we need both.
I don’t completely understand the problems that exist on Maui, but I do know the director of Akaku, and I know his commitment to the goals of the public access stations.
I also know that should this bill pass, the other public access stations will be affected sooner or later. Action with such far-reaching consequences should not be taken lightly.
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to testify on HB 784, HD1.