What’s YouTube if Not Public Access?

This weekend, Dan Gillmor is doing a workshop on how to make public-access TV relevant. His thoughts echo those I wrote about in, “Add Cable Public Access to the Endangered Species List“. Namely, it’s an artifact of a time when publishing was hard and expensive for citizens to do.

My recommendation for cable companies to fulfill their community requirement: “offer bandwidth [to the community]. Lots and lots of it, with BitTorrent thrown in.”

Here’s some choice excerpts from Dan:

“In five years, cable systems will be free to abandon public access programming in every way. They won’t have to provide production facilities or channels.”

“In the meantime…help members of the community learn modern media production techniques.”


“I believe that the important part of Cable Access Television is access. Access to:
media production tools, media distribution systems, training to use them, media literacy education to understand them. And all of this should be within the context of the needs of the local community….Cable Access should not become Internet Access, it must become Media Access.” – Ben Sheldon

“Youtube is what it is. A very, very popular, traditional media outlet that provides its content on the net. It is video on the demand that is absolutely no different than the video on demand that comcast or any other cable company or telco offers, except that its user uploaded, limited to 10 minutes and the quality is awful” – Mark Cuban

One thought on “What’s YouTube if Not Public Access?

  1. I started producing my first public access show “Bug Eye Tv” in 1994 at the age of 13. I already knew how to use the camera equipment and was glad to learn how to edit video using reel to reel. I used the skills I gained to produce my own short movies, tv shows, and related content. The training I received was invaluable to my personal and professional development. Although I am no longer a supporter of public access (via cable channel) as this tends to be an archaic and limited (to your community) way to broadcast your message. I can defend the need for a “Community Media Center” that trains people and more importantly provides a face-to-face community to give people access to expertise and project help. I cannot however defend out dated modes of thought. As a young producer in the 1990’s I couldn’t wait to be freed from the grasp of “local tv.” I started putting postage stamp sized videos online as soon as I could in about 1998. Ever since then I have fallen in love with Youtube, revver and other services.

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