Will L.A. City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Ever Resuscitate Public Access TV?

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Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 8:00 AM
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Will the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ever help resuscitate public access television in Los Angeles? It's a question public access advocates continue to put forward, although it seems to fall on deaf ears.

In response, public access TV producer Leslie Dutton, actor Ed Asner, and others have launched a web site for the Public - Television Industry Coalition, hoping to somehow force the politicians into action.

L.A. Weekly published a December, 2008, cover story about how local and state politicians essentially shut down public access TV in L.A.

In an excerpt from the article, we wrote:

"The 12 no-charge (public access TV) studios (in Los Angeles) have given rise to a vibrant public-access community, peopled at various times by the likes of sexologist and porn-site operator Dr. Susan Block; respected whistleblower Leslie Dutton; substitute teacher and government-policy expert John Walsh, who slams politicians with such vigor and disdain he appears to be on the verge of a heart attack; and grandmotherly Francine Dancer, who go-go dances.

"It is the same system that in New York spawned the infamous Robin Byrd Show, which celebrated gay and straight sexuality with nude guests and erotic dancing, and in Austin, Texas has inspired 450 independent citizens to produce a staggering array of uncensored on-air content.

"But due to a state law written for AT&T by former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fall of 2006, cable-television companies are being allowed to escape a 31-year-old requirement to give back to the public from which they draw their riches. Lawmakers in a few weeks can finally shut up the little guys."

And that's exactly how things played out, with nothing much changing over the past two years.

Dutton and the Public-Television Industry Corporation are looking to turn things around with renewed lobbying efforts.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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