USA public access television channels are an untapped resource for building local journalism

Instead of letting public access channels wither due to commercial market fluctuations, we should publicly fund and expand the precious communication infrastructure that access media offers.

Access to local news and information is critical, especially during pandemics, elections, and other high-stakes moments. Yet it’s increasingly clear that a profit-driven news system alone cannot provide everyone with the media they need to navigate daily life. As local journalism’s commercial model continues to collapse, public and nonprofit media institutions can serve as informational safety nets.

Although skeptics see PEG channels as relics from a bygone analog era and incapable of producing stories without encountering government interference, most public access channels today stream their channels online, upload content to app-based platforms such as Roku and leverage social media to promote audience engagement.

As we continue to face an ever-worsening journalism crisis, it is worth reimagining how investments in PEG outlets could help address local information and communication needs. We should leverage and expand such invaluable community infrastructures — before they vanish altogether.

For more on this subject, go here.