CMA members Phyllis Logan and Robert “Cooch” Kuczera attended the quarterly Cable Compliance Review meeting at City Hall to voice their support for CAN TV. The new Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Maria Guerra Lapacek, was present and had the opportunity to hear CMA’s concerns regarding the Comcast cable renewal.
Cooch, of Toys for Tots, inspired everyone with an enthusiastic account of the group’s good work for children throughout the year. He stressed the importance of its work with CAN TV, recounting how the group’s membership and charitable efforts have grown tremendously thanks in part to the Toys for Tots show on CAN TV21, which started in 1999. Cooch said the show gives them an opportunity to educate people about public safety prior to the Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade, to build membership and to reach out to charitable partners. Addressing Comcast directly, he said its support of public access is of key importance to groups throughout the City saying, “it is public access that makes it possible for groups like ours to reach so many people.”
Phyllis Logan, of the NAACP Chicago Westside Branch then spoke. She testified that her group has been involved doing programming at CAN TV for 10 years, interacting with viewers via a live call-in program and more recently, sponsoring candidates forums that are available on CAN TV. She noted that CAN TV allows for direct, uncensored access to the viewing audience, which is crucial to NAACP in its fight for equity.
Phyllis made explicitly clear CMA’s expectations for the Comcast franchise renewal: 1) Direct and unrestricted funding, 2) A funding agreement that meets or exceeds the RCN agreement, and 3) technological equality for the public’s channels. She noted that these expectations were shared in previous meetings with former Commissioner Krimbel and with Comcast. She gave a letter to the Commissioner with CMA’s official request for a meeting to further discuss the public’s needs in the Comcast renewal.
Following the meeting, Comcast officials spoke with Cooch and Phyllis, with one commenting that CAN TV will be around in the future. Phyllis responded in no uncertain terms, “If you don’t fully fund CAN TV, we lose. By diminishing opportunities to CAN TV, you diminish opportunities for groups like ours. It’s CAN TV that is there for the public.”