What is "Community Media" ?

All non-commercial forms of communication within a given geographic area available to the general public with minimal restrictions on content sharing.  Mediums include; The Press,  Radio (Community Radio - WMPG), Cable Television (GCTV2),  Broadband Networks (Gray Town's Web Site, Facebook, YouTube), Signage (Traditional/Signage).....future communication mediums (3D Video ?). 

What are the Core Values of Community Media ?

- Localism:  Supports local viewpoints, local perspectives, and the interests of local communities.  Most main-stream media programming is intended for National or Regional audiences and does not often reflect the rich diversity of American community life.

 

- Diversity of Viewpoints- Participatory:  Local communities must be able to make and air media that reflects local experiences.  Our society is founded on a belief in freedom of expression and free speech.

 

- Promote Dialog and Discussion:  Democracy works best when a wide array of voices and opinions can be seen and heard.  The airing of opinions creates and opportunity for dialogue around issues and concerns that people and the community must address. 

 

- Media Literacy: A basic tenant of civil society is that the lives of all members of the community are important, and all members of society should be able to represent themselves in the media.  In order to represent themselves people need access to the electronic media tools to create content, the training to use the tools, and the mechanisms to distribute community content.  

 

- Non-Commercial: PEG access is an essential component in our publi media "greenspace" where, like a public park, we an reflect on who we are without the interference of commercial values.

 

- Civic Engagement:  Many of the decisions that most affect our lives are made at the local level by city councils, school boards and other important local political and economic development activities.

 

- Education: Community Media should play an important role in our local educational system. It provides a distribution medium for use by schools, libraries and other local non-profit entities, and is especially important for education in low income and rural communities. 

 

- Public Safety:  Community Media outlets can be used to inform and alert community members about local emergences or disaster situations.  

 

- Electronic Greenspace: All communication service providers using the Public-Right-Of-Way, or Public Airwaves, should provide bandwidth and funding for community access and use of these systems. 

What has Gray been doing with Community Media ?

- Traditionally communities used public meetings and local papers to communicate; Gray News

 

- 70's/80's communities negotiated new Cable Television Franchises including local "access" channels including; Public, Educational and Governmental users (PEG Cable Access); Gray Cable Access Committee forms GCTV2.  Begins live coverage of Gray Town Council meetings. 

 

- 1990's A group of citizens began producing limited Public Access programs including a series of live call-in shows where people could discuss important topics with local leaders and subject experts.

 

- 2000's  The Gray Cable Access Committee is suddenly terminated at a town meeting where a few members of the community made the argument that the Cable Franchise Fees collected from cable-subscribers in Gray should be used for General Purpose Funds.  

 

- 2010  Without input and engagement from citizens the local channel, GCTV2, becomes a service of the town managed by the Town Manager with little input from the public.  

 

- 2020  - Gray will begin re-negotiating it's Cable Franchise while creating a "future vision" for                                 Community Media in our town.

             - The FCC will de-regulate the Cable Industry further while potentially giving the industry the                     ability to "charge back" to municipalities for certain provisions.  The law will be challenged. 

             - The State of Maine will go to court to fight a lawsuit, brought by the Cable Industry, claiming                   our recent law; "An Act to Ensure Non-Discriminatory Treatment of a Public, Educational or                     Government Access Channels By Cable System Operators". (LD1371) Gray will be           

               represented through our membership to the Community Television Association of Maine     

               (CTAM).

             - Many communities throughout the country will continue to deal with new distribution models

               like 5G.  

             - More people will be watching television using broadband services and terminating their   

               cable service.  Viewers will begin to use new "Over The Top" platforms such as Apple TV or       

               Roku. Gray will need to review it's technical infrastructure and make             

               recommendations as part of the re-franchising negotiations. 

 

Establishing a "Community Media Citizens Advisory" (CMCA) entity to work with the Town Council/Manager and Various Stakeholders in the community.

 

The purpose of this entity might include;

 

- Research within the Community Media movement to see what other towns are doing with these resources.  Bring back models, case studies and contacts from these organizations.

- Work with entities in the community to assist in producing local content for distribution over Gray's local channel.  

- Review existing "access" policies and suggest updates as needed.  

- Work with the station manager to develop technical resources for the community.

- Develop educational workshops for the community about using our local communication resources.

- Review Cable Franchising process and provide feedback/advise to council/manager.

- Begin to investigate the possibility of a "Regional Community Media NPO" that might be established to manage local programming for multiple towns in the region.  

 

The entity might meet with the station manager on a by-weekly basis.  Regular meetings with the Town Manager as needed.  At least one public presentation to the council about it's work during the course of a year.