TX: Houston Public Access TV To Get The Axe Next Year

Posted on April 24, 2007 - 7:51pm.

April 24, 2006

Houston Public Access TV To Get The Axe Next Year
by Stefan Wray

Houston, TX -- Fred Fichman, Executive Director of Houston Media Source -- the public access TV station in Houston -- said today that he met with the Mayor's Deputy Chief of Staff, and other City officials in Houston, who verified that as of April 2008 there will be a major reduction in funding for both the public and government access TV channels.

In April 2008, the franchise agreement between Comcast and the City of Houston expires, and under Texas' two and a half year-old statewide video franchise law, Comcast will be allowed to apply for a statewide franchise certificate, essentially a permit.

At that point, Houston will continue to receive franchise fees from Comcast, but there will be no earmarked or guaranteed operating funds for Public, Educational, or Government (PEG) access. It is then up to the discretion of the City as to whether to use general fund monies to continue to finance PEG channels there.

Fred Fichman said that the Mayors Deputy Chief of Staff made it very clear today that the City had no plan whatsoever to utilize general fund monies either to continue funding Houston Media Source, or to even fund its own Municipal Channel.

Mr. Fichman went on to say that a discontinuation of the earmarked Comcast funds for Houston Media Source would likely amount to a decrease of $571,000 in HMSs budget. He said that City officials indicated that through some of the remaining franchise agreements with smaller cables providers, there could be as much as only $100,000 for HMS after a year from now, however this is not enought to maintain current operations.

The only way for Houston Media Source to survive at its current level, he said, is for HMS to immediately engage in major fundraising development, and within a year be able to come up with a fundraising plan that can sustain $500,000 per year or more.

Fred Fichman also noted that he found it quite amazing that this was happening in the 4th largest city in the nation and one of the county's largest media markets.

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( categories: State Franchises | TEXAS )