A unique and interesting move was for local and federal government to require that cable operators set aside a few channels to be used for educational, government and public access.
Most notable, public access TV allowed anyone from the general public to produce their own television show, focusing on local news, issues and topics of interests.
Though many of the publicly produced programs on public access TV did just that, many of the programs ranged from odd to bizarre to offensive.
Time went on and more news outlets were born - thanks to cable - and the internet began to blossom. Particularly with the latter more folks could communicate more of their thoughts to the masses than ever before.
Then, in 2006, a revolution occurred. The video sharing site, You Tube hit the internet. Today, YouTube hosts tens of millions of videos and tens of thousands are added each day. More people watch YouTube in a day than likely watch all of America's public access stations in a year.
As the revolution in technology changes the cable industry, many are questioning if public access is still a worthy venture. Here in Los Angeles, the City is making an effort to seize access channels on local cable operators. While that's a concerning issue in itself, it's time to ask the question do we need to beg for the mercy of the cable companies and/or the City government to get the word out? Or are we better off to focus on the new technologies that activists are already making effective use of to get the word out about important issues. It wasn't public access or even regular TV that helped to turn out tens of thousands of protestors when voters outlawed same-sex marriage. It was YouTube and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook that got the word out. Indeed, it was these very technologies that Barack Obama used to turn out citizens to his rallies and voters to the polls.
I turned to public access and saw a show where a comely young woman in a red dress was having suggestive phone conversations with young men, encouraging them to come to an "event" she was hosting locally. Another offering on public access is a guy who paints while exercising. I think it's time we move on.