Public access TV used to be one of the few places the average person could film, produce and broadcast their own creative content. But with cheaper video cameras, editing software and multiple venues online, that niche doesn’t appear to be as strong. Rick Richards, Chairman of the Board of WYOU Community Access Television, says operations like theirs still have strengths. This includes a synergy of creative people in a community atmosphere sharing technical knowledge and ideas.
Nevertheless, Richards says they are evolving with the times and also teach community members how to blog and post to YouTube and have streamed programming as well.
Public access stations like WYOU in Madison have been adapting to major budget cuts, most significantly one that went into effect the first of this year. A state telecommunications law passed three years ago does not require cable providers to charge fees that help pay for such programming. Richards says the cuts amount to about to about 70-to-80 percent of their operating budget.
Since the law’s passage the station has generated revenue by filming community events then selling the packaged footage or offering production services. As they recently eliminated their three paid staffers in favor of an all volunteer operation, Richards says providing such services from now on could prove challenging.