By Lucien Matheron
The community television station WYOU is proposing a cable and online show focusing on all forms of the resistance movement and positive progressive change. This is something that local leaders in Our Wisconsin Revolution should get on board with.
Community control over cable television’s production and distribution was a revolutionary idea. It first became a reality in Madison, Wisconsin in 1974 with the creation of WYOU. For both the idea and the reality, the road has been bumpy to said the least.
The Cable Communication Act of 1984 mandated funding for community television with something known as Public, Educational, and Government access, or PEG. But state deregulation, promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and AT&T have successfully wiped out the funding, leading most Community Access Stations in the U.S. to close (for a quick overview, see progressive.org/dispatches/alec-s-new-victim-public-access-tv/).
As a result, since 2010 WYOU has lost its funding, staff, and studio. But thanks to a small group of volunteers and the Madison Public Library, it is still alive, broadcasting locally created programming 24/7 as well as streaming online. (A bill sponsored by Senator Tammy Baldwin in 2014 would have restored most PEG funding had it passed.)
However, the technological media landscape has drastically changed since the heyday of local access TV in the 1980s and 1990s. There is now no need for a collective organization to provide training, production equipment and distribution. Smart phones and Internet do the trick. Anybody at any time can record and post something extremely creative or extremely important or extremely relevant and become extremely lost in the ocean of extremely banal communication, fake news, commercial, corporate, and celebrity noise.
So we are left with a social tool (Local Cable Community Channels) that are ignored and obsolete, and a modern social media system ubiquitous and overwhelming. We are also living in what looks like an authoritarian take-over that is giving birth to a resistance movement.
WYOU is proposing that we use both tools at our disposal (Community TV and online media) to produce a community television show of resistance created locally and connected globally. We have an actual cable channel and some limited studio resources. We have the tools, we have the community support, we have the revolutionary spirit, we have the mind, we have the artistic talent. We just need to get together and start working on it. Anybody interested in using their resistance energy in television and online broadcasting is welcome. The show will be a collectively developing project involving interviews, documentations, all form of art video, fiction, non-fiction, music, poetry, humor and whatever communicates, instigates, propagates, and inspires resistance and an alternative pro-democracy program.
Volunteers are needed in all fields of television video productions and mass media distribution, from production managers to audio/video/internet technicians. This include artists, musicians, writers, journalists, and more.
There is a rich history of collaboration between WYOU and professors and students from the UW-Madison. This project offer opportunity for a university/community endeavor that, for students, could easily fit in multiple class curriculums for credit. But you don’t need any university connection to do this.
Our Wisconsin Revolution’s support would help a lot! But even without, if you are interested please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with “show of resistance” in the subject line. Include your email or phone number, and tell us the basics of what you might want to do.
Lucien Matheron has been a WYOU volunteer producer since 1987 and is currently a board member. His program “Freedom of Peace” has been running since 1991 and can be seen Thursdays at 8 p.m. on channel 991 or WYOU.org.