This morning CMA member Gordon Quinn, who is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films, was interviewed by Tony Sarabia on WBEZ’s program The Morning Shift, along with CAN TV Executive Director Barbara Popovic, to discuss CAN TV and Comcast’s franchise renewal and the potential effect it could have on public access television in Chicago.
Gordon recalled the formative days of public access in Chicago, when residents from a wide range of backgrounds came together to advocate for a public space on cable. He said that the Committee for Media Access today reflects a similar diversity in terms of the groups that participate in and have a stake in Chicago’s public access center.
Gordon also expressed concern about the closures and other downgrades to public benefits that result when corporations like Comcast are able to wiggle out of their obligations, noting how those obligations stem from their use of the public rights of way. He said that mega mergers like the proposed Comcast-Time Warner union would embolden already powerful companies like Comcast, even when dealing with major cities like Chicago, not to mention smaller municipalities whose bargaining power would be further diminished.
Barbara Popovic of CAN TV pointed to Portland Oregon, where Comcast has met standards much higher than the terms being discussed in Chicago. She said that so many Aldermen in Chicago have pledged their support because they have seen the benefits of CAN TV’s work in their local wards.
In March the City Council granted a 3-month extension to Comcast’s franchise as negotiations over CAN TV were unresolved, that extension will expire June 15. Gordon speaks for the Committee for Media Access when he said, “We want to see this settled, it’s been delayed already, and we think it’s time for them to settle this so that CAN TV can be planning for the future.”
Click here to listen to a recording of the interview.