The vote soon to come up regarding the City of Seattle’s budget includes a plan by the Mayor to cut the funding for the public access station – SCANTV. The cut proposed is draconian – from $650000 to $100000. This would effectively eviscerate the services that SCANTV provides to the city. What seems to have been conveniently left out of the equation is the fact that cable companies have a legal responsibility to provide meaningful public access through public access channels. These cable companies make sizeable, and one might argue, unconscionable profits providing commercial television programming to its customers. The actual quality of this programming can be argued; however, it is quite safe to conclude that it has minimal value to the community.
Seattle is richly endowed with a diverse citizenry. In order for any community to maintain a healthy and meaningful relationship with all its members, there needs to be reliable and lively communication. SCANTV has provided over the years an avenue for such dialog and communication. The suggestion has been offered that the services currently provided by SCANTV can be readily supplanted by YouTube and video streaming technologies. Frankly, this is a spurious argument. These technologies add nothing of importance to community life other than yet another escapist form of entertainment. SCANTV offers a marvelous window into the vitality of the Seattle community, and provides a vital link for minority ethnic communities within its borders.
Admittedly we are certainly in the midst of hard times; however, I find it hard to believe that a meaningful compromise cannot be reached. Seattle has grown into a vibrant and dynamic city due in no small measure to its ethnic and cultural riches. The demise of SVANTV would significantly subtract from this legacy.
I find it interesting to note that whenever governments are constrained by matters of finance, it is services to the poor, the minorities and the underserved that are curtailed. Is this yet another pathetic example of this harsh political reality?