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Sustaining Democracy in a Digital Age

A Blog from New America's Media Policy Initiative

Understanding U.S. educational access television providers - Mapping Community Television #2

Published:  January 10, 2011

Guest Post by Rob McCausland

In his response to my first guest blog post mapping community television on December 17 (How many cities have access TV?), Access Humboldt Executive Director and Knight Media Policy Fellow Sean McLaughlin said "Many operations are not appearing on the map due to smaller populations." On the Alliance for Community Media's LinkedIn group forum, he wrote, "This is very useful. Now we need to add the smaller cities and micropolitan areas."

That's exactly right. The universe of community access television providers is much more massive and sprawling than most people imagine - exceeding 2,000 so far. The map included in the previous post showing government meeting coverage providers in 276 major cities was just a start, a way to introduce readers (policy makers and practitioners) to this new and on-going crowd-sourced data collection and presentation process.

So here's the next step - Mapping U.S. educational access television providers.

Higher Education Institutions with Community Access Channels

According to the data collected so far, there are at least 285 primary and secondary education institutions and 209 higher education institutions across the country that are managing community access television channels. (Links are to interactive maps courtesy of the National Center for Media Engagement.)

There is at least one inconsistency in the data as presented: the name of the access service or service provider. As mentioned in the previous post, I've used a variety of sources in assembling this information - lists from program distributors, for example - and these sources present the names of the channels/providers in a variety of ways.

Primary and Secondary Education Institutions with Community Access Channels

Visiting the providers' websites sometimes leads to the proper name of the channel.  Moreover, it's not only the names which need proofing/cleaning up. Some of these providers may have ceased channel operations, or they may have transferred operations to another entity. In Denton, Texas, for example, management of the government channel is currently being transferred to the University of North Texas. In short, this presentation is a snapshot of a constantly moving target.

This is why I've emailed the 2,000+ providers listed here (or at least the best contacts I could find), asked them to proof their listing, and sent them editing-privileges invites. While there are currently a few space-holders for names, and perhaps a few errors as well, in fairly short order there will be less of both.

Coming Next: NPO access providers, and government and multi-jurisdictional access providers.

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