One of the biggest obstacles we face as a community television station isn't a lack of programming, but that we aren't given equal footing with other national and regional stations. But there is an effort at the State House to change that.
Here are the big issues: You can flip through hundreds of channels in the HD tier and never come past one of WCTV's three SD channels. When you do find WCTV (Comcast 9/22/99 & Verizon 37/38/39), you're left to guess as to what's on (or check the schedules on our website). The Electronic Programming Guide, which helps steer so much of our viewing habits, is unavailable to community media centers.
This past week, legislation was introduced in both the State Senate and State House of Representatives called An Act Supporting Community Access Television. Its goal is simple: to level the playing field and give WCTV and roughly 200 other centers across the state the same signal quality and features as other stations.
The bill would require cable companies to allow us to broadcast in high definition and include our programming in the electronic program guide. These changes would mean a higher-quality viewing experience for our communities and make our programs more accessible to viewers.
I believe a lot of the content we generate on a weekly basis is both interesting and valuable to the community. Nowhere else can you find video and audio 100% dedicated to the town.
I'll keep you updated as this bill moves through the legislative process. There are technical hurdles to jump through, as well as political ones. But after seeing similar legislation nearly pass last year, we are hopeful that this year will be one in our favor.
You can read the full press release from Mass Access here. Mass Access is the main advocacy group for community media centers across Massachusetts.