Chicago Access Network Television ? CAN TV ? is in serious trouble. Money trouble. And 21 years of service could end unless the Chicago City Council is persuaded otherwise at its Sept. 1 meeting.
Alderman Bernard Stone (50th) in May proposed an ordinance that one-fifth of the city’s cable franchise fee be designated to fund CAN TV. Almost 80% of public access centers across the U.S. are funded this way.
Said Stone: “To give you an idea of the amount of money we’re talking about, a Super Bowl commercial produces ad revenues of a little more than $2 million. That is what one-fifth of the franchise fee would produce annually for CAN TV.”
Mayor Daley has received hundreds of letters and petitions with thousands of signatures supporting the ordinance. More action is needed, however, to keep its five public action channels (19, 21, 27, 36, and 42) open and available to the public.
The Finance Committee passed the ordinance in June, but it was held back from immediate consideration by the full Council because the administration requested time to seek alternative funding sources. To date, no alternative funding sources have been identified.
CAN TV is currently funded under agreements with the three franchised Chicago cable providers: Comcast, RCN and WideOpenWest.
Each pays a flat fee of $215,000 per service area. RCN has defaulted twice on significant payments due CAN TV, due to bankruptcy restructuring. That puts CAN TV at risk of losing close to $1 million per year, equivalent to about 40% of its cable funding.
You can help keep CAN TV alive by contacting Mayor Daley, Ald. Stone and others and encouraging them to support the CAN TV funding ordinance. For details see www.cantv.org, or call CAN TV at 312/738-1400. You’re also invited to attend the Sept. 29 City Council meeting.