WPAA-TV Turns 30

They say it’s my B’day. Celebrate with me. Subscribe to @wpaatv on YouTube. Retrospective content will be cablecast on Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m. this year. A few videos have some of these questions embedded with clues.

To be eligible to win: You must be an @wpaaTV YouTube subscriber, WPAA-TV FB Follower, and Freeman P. Quinn‘s friend. Submit answers to Email

Three winners will be recognized at

the ‘Community Media Day’ Event on Oct 21st.

Winners will receive wpaatv swag of their choice,

and … you must play to find out.

  1. What year was WPAA incorporated as a nonprofit?
  2. What former WPAA employee became an EMMY Award-winning Editor?
  3. What former WPAA Producer was among the 1st to earn $100,000 on YouTube?
  4. What video produced at WPAA-TV has the most views?
  5. What video produced at WPAA-TV has the most awards?
  6. What award-winning children’s show is featured on WPAA-TV?
  7. What local producer hosted the most shows in WPAA’s History?
  8. What local personality hosted the most shows on WPAA
  9. What award-winning program features women’s stories?
  10. Who is located at our former Center St. address?
  11. What is the most important room at 28 S Orchard St?
  12. What is the name of the Gallery at WPAA-TV and Community Media Center
  13. What production at WPAA-TV involved over 75 people?
  14. What is the name of the Tiger in the ARCY Mural?
  15. Can you name all the colleges that had interns at WPAA-TV?
  16. Whose show is this (musicians Thursday at 9 @2005)
  17. Who is the watercolor artist?
  18. Who is the mural artist who created Hercules?
  19. What local event was covered annually for over a decade?
  20. Who played the Ompa Loompa?
  21. What year was the move to 28 S Orchard?
  22. How many miles of Cat 5 is in the wall?
  23. How many shows does WPAA Produce?
  24. What type of shows are on WPAATV?
  25. What is the Cable Channel you can be watched on?
  26. Are there audience welcome events?
  27. Who was the most famous musician to perform at studioW?
  28. 1st address
  29. Who is the mascot?
  30. What is your Favorite Program

A long time to be in the dog house: WPAA-TV Turns 30

Published Record-Journal Weekender Op-Ed June 3, 2023

In June, WPAA-TV turns 30, but the legacy of community media in Wallingford is 48 years deep. All community media in Wallingford originated in 1975 with a state grant to the library for a community bulletin board. The “What is happening at the library?” show, 200 North Main St, had been the longest-running community media program in Connecticut. Discontinued during the pandemic, WGTV has no plans for its return. The library is now podcasting.

Also in June, WPAA-TV is receiving, for the fourth time in five years, the Alliance for Community Media Hometown Festival Award for ‘Overall Excellence’ as a small public access station. This honor suggests that WPAA-V is reaching, or exceeding, all expectations tied to its mission to provide a space for the people of Wallingford to express their ideas, and talents and share stories.

Annual Video Report
Annual Report 2022 Stories

Less celebratory is how Wallingford is an outlier in a legislative study of community media a.k.a. Public, Education, and Government (P.E.G.) in Connecticut (PURA DOCKET NO. 22-06-26). This study is reviewing the potential of ‘statewide’ community media provider consolidation, funding options and limits.’

With a study seeking to ‘consolidate’ access providers, reduce costs and ensure accountability; Wallingford stands out for a few reasons. Among them is the existence of two recording locations for government TV and a third independent public access studio. Ironically, this has led to an exceptional amount of state technology grants to Wallingford. Other eccentricities appear in annual reports. When filed, the education channel report incorrectly identifies the channel it administers. The WPAA-TV Public Access report includes government & education activity.

Idiosyncrasies garner more scrutiny. When a 1999 PURA Docket initially designated WPAA-TV as the sole recipient of subscriber fees ‘remaining’ in Wallingford, it was inclusive of a requisite obligation to cablecast content the other local channel administrators chose not to provide. This commingling, coupled with an annual average of $20,000 of Wallingford subscriber fees authorized to be distributed by cable companies to the franchise towns of Madison, Guilford, No. Branford and No. Haven, begs the question, “Why?”.

In 2008, WPAA-TV volunteers sought to purchase the Parade Ground property adjacent to the Town Hall, now owned by a family. Testimony established that Wallingford had the most expensive Government Access channel in CT. They suggested consolidation. Their purchase and consolidation proposal conservatively would have saved Wallingford taxpayers a million dollars. It also could have optimized the technology grants that did not yet exist. The primary source of resistance to local consolidation has been the mayor. Since the mayor of 40 years is not running in 2023, local elections may open the door to a review of consolidation — assuming Wallingford is not targeted to be merged with other franchise towns.

There are two other complex and significant factors playing into the study’s outcome:  the disputed origin and purpose of community media funding and the vast technological change since the inception of Cable TV. Undeniably, more people have access to tools to create media and there are several platforms for distribution. Even the legacy library show has been supplanted with podcasting.

Among fifty questions posed to nonprofit cable access providers, study administrators requested revenue and expense details for the last four years from all providers in the state. The last filing date is June 7th.  Study recommendations are to be submitted to the Technology Committee of the General Assembly by December 15th. While it is too soon to predict the outcome, the words ‘consolidation’, ‘eliminate’, and ‘merge’ loom assertively above discussion of what constitutes meaningful community media today.

Connecticut (CT) is among a handful of states committed to enabling community media in every community. Yet, CT has the most complex mechanism for providing & funding P.E.G. in the nation. It is a hodgepodge of corporate, regional, town, and mixed-service models with significant variation in channel capacity allocations. Its evolution is firmly rooted in a Yankee paradigm; a worldview that presumes to foster local democracy, open government, and civic virtue while being practical and self-reliant. Uncomfortably nestled in this hodgepodge is Wallingford. And what is at risk is the loss of WPAA-TV and Community Media Center. 

The volunteers of WPAA-TV believe themselves to be stewards of what remains limitless: That community media lets you discover every day what you did not know you needed. In November, local elections may finally let us out of the dog house only to find the study sends us to the shoreline. But we want to be all in for Wallingford in Wallingford. Are you with us?

As Told Here WPAA-TV (Our Podcast culls the archive)

WPAA-TV embarked on the remastering of video to audio in 2019. AS TOLD HERE are previously cablecasts on WPAA-TV conversations and stories shared in the public interest. If the television version of the show does not rely heavily on visuals, the topic is ‘evergreen’, or is public archive worthy, both archived and shows in the current production cycle are eligible to be remastered for the podcast by our volunteers. Quinnipiac Journalist intern culls the archives to select the show that may be prime for podcast remastering. His best-of-show reviews follow

Here is what we consider prior to podcasting the popular, Citizen Mike Show. The 1st consideration is will the content expire; will the issues discussed be of archival or ongoing relevance? The show is entirely ‘talking heads’ with minimum reliance on visuals and interpersonal expression. He verbalizes the show closing. If it is breaking news or something that will be resolved soon, it is not a solid candidate UNLESS Rushing it out to the public has value. As a podcast this could become a top performer

Review by QU Intern Garrett Amill

Citizen Mike: a service to the town and a lot of fun

The most important part of government can be smaller than you think. Local politics often have just as much of an impact on life in a town as state politics do or even federal. There can be a dearth of information about local politics, however. Citizen Mike acts to fill a gap in Wallingford, providing a place for debate and discussion of the goings-on in the government of Wallingford and beyond. Citizen Mike hosts government officials and employees. The show also features people with opinions on aspects of the town, like a teacher talking about Wallingford schools. Besides providing a service, the show is compelling to listen to. Much of that comes from the skill of host Mike Brodinsky. Brodinsky has an understated charm to him. He could easily be the center of attention on the show, but instead, he lets the guests shine. Brodinsky asks questions well, getting the information from guests that he knows listeners will want. At the same time, he keeps the guests from rambling too much. Brodinsky also has a good knowledge of what will get too technical for the audience. He asks guests to clarify what they mean whenever they use jargon or reference things the audience won’t know. Citizen Mike is a very timely show. It’s been the first source of information on newly announced decisions in the past. This makes listening to older episodes less ideal since they can be about old news. However, some of the show’s episodes have a longer shelf life. Citizen Mike provides a service to the town of Wallingford while being interesting to watch. It functions as a fascinating local political news show.

Looking at Mental Health through practiced eyes

Mental health issues are still stigmatized. Addiction, PTSD, and more are rarely understood, let alone talked about. Out of the Dark takes a shot at addressing these complicated issues. It succeeds at shedding light on them. The hosts, Jane Buckley and Joan Landino are twins. Despite looking nearly identical, they are far from the same person. They have different takes on issues and sound very different from each other. It is easy to tell which one is speaking, even if you can’t see them. The two are both APRNs, or advanced practice registered nurses. This means they have more training and expertise than other nurses. This expertise lets the two discuss mental health issues from a perspective that includes more scientific knowledge. Of course, being nurses they see more cases of mental illness than the average person would. That on-the-street experience gives them further perspective on the issues. The hosts’ experiences work to provide more information than otherwise. However, their discussion never gets too technical. Everything they say can be understood without a background in medicine. The mental health challenges they chose to discuss are relevant. Dementia care, addiction, and marijuana especially provide good opportunities for interesting takes from the hosts. There are also a few less controversial episodes. The episode on DNA-guided medicine is a particular standout. If you haven’t heard of that concept, definitely check it out to learn something new and fascinating. A frank look at mental health issues is rare, but Out of the Dark recorded in 2016 provides it, bringing light to these often ignored issues.

Midlife Matters: Cozy, yet full of wit

I never thought I’d care about the art of Ukranian egg dying. Hearing it discussed on Midlife Matters, however, my attention was nowhere else. Midlife Matters manages to make topics I’d never heard of interesting. The host, Georgian Lussier, brings a calming presence to each show. From the owl sounds that play at the start of the episode to her voice throughout, there is a contemplative tone. The guests are all women, and all over 40. These women provide unique perspectives. An episode featuring a teacher from an automotive trade school is made better by that teacher being female. The fact that a woman can teach in a male-dominated industry is empowering. None of the episodes are truly run-of-the-mill. Even the ones that seem that way at first turn out to be worth listening to. One episode on a grief support program has an especially interesting guest, who clearly has a life full of stories to tell. Lussier is capable of letting her guests tell their stories while making sure those stories stay interesting. The start of shows can drag a little as Lussier finds her footing with the guests. Once she does, however, the conversation flows. It’s worth listening to get to the fascinating discussion. Midlife Matters provides a contemplative look at what is fascinating in the lives of women in the area. It’s a good show to watch while drinking a cup of tea and taking in a unique world.

Resolve To Connect in 2023

2022 Content Is Still good viewing – On Demand

In 2022, shows began returning to in-studioW production, TeamHercules Youth transformed into #TeenTigerTV, a donation from ESPN transformed our hybrid community room, we produced Arts & Humanities Projects with grant support and collaborated with other nonprofits to raise the profile of ‘good’ in Wallingford as #TheGreatGive06492. Local shows are on-demand on our YouTube Channel and our Producer’s Channels. Our video annual report tells some of the story; the part about ‘U’.

#NowMoreThanEver because 2023 has a big challenge to overcome

A dark cloud hovers over us in 2023. Broadband (aka Cable TV companies) usurped a funding bill to force a legislative mandate to study nonprofit community TV. It targets outcomes like statewide consolidation and resetting funding limits to 2019 levels.

Your support is the best response to this challenge. We wish to remain hyper-local and sustainable. To help can you resolve to follow, friend, watch & make media with us as we #CelebrateWallingfordEveryDay with a #MoreThanTV commUnity presence?

I resolve to

  • Visit WPAA-TV in person at 28 So Orchard St (no appointment needed)
  • Visit online at Wpaa.tv
  • Subscribe to WPAATV YouTube Channel and Local Producers
  • Friend & Follow Freeman P Quinn 1st, Free Speech Ambassador
  • Watch us on TV or on the Internet any time 24 x 7 via the website
  • Follow WPAA-TV Social Media Facebook Page
  • Connect on Instagram
  • Subscribe to the occasional Newsletter ( Check out the latest here & subscribe)
  • Listen to As Told HereWPAATV Podcasts of shows previously produced for TV
  • Become a grassroots supporter (as little as $5) #TheGreatGive06492 May 3 & 4
  • Stop in on Community Media Day (Oct 21 noon to 5) for green screen fun
  • .Use the community room for free for my civic group. To reserve email

Celebration Of Voices

WPAA-TV believes in uplifting the voices of our local producers. And we are not alone in thinking the programs produced for WPAA-TV are good stuff. 

Congrats to all the winners. The New England Alliance For Community Media judges chose 8 of our 10 submissions as finalists in the Nor’Easter Festival.

Taking top honors was Mike Schleif for animated cartoons in the categories Arts & Theater and  Instructional & Training: Space Bears The Movie and Drawing with Mandy: Lantern

When I Speak Freely, the youth winner of the Democracy 2022 Civic Life Project Film Challenge and the National Hometown Festival was a 2nd place Finalist in the all-ages category in the Nor’easter: About Access.

Celebrating Local Creators WPAA-TV Winners Reel

The MakingItArtisan$tories Crew was a  Finalist in Diversity Empowerment & Performance with How Love Begat a Book JoJo’s Tiny Ear Author Stephania and The Evolution of SUEÃNOS by Anatar Marmol-Gagne. Georgian Lussier, was a finalist in Profile Talk for her show MidLife Matters featuring Nonprofit Leader Sandie Lavoy and as guest host in conversation with Matthew Bailey of B.C. Funeral Home in the category of Science, Health, and Spirituality. WPAA-TV’s 2021 Annual Report Celebration of Voices WPAA-TV was again recognized for overall excellence.

Q & A | Question Four – Net Neutral Funding 2019 Levels in 2024

Study with intent to change the delivery of community media in CT

Provide and discuss recommendations regarding how to effectuate the consolidations of community access operations to ensure that any recommended increase to the remaining community access organizations’ operational and capital budgets is at minimum net neutral to the average funding collected from the applicable franchise area.

Special Act 22-23 mandates a study be conducted by PURA | NONPROFIT COMMUNITY ACCESS TELEVISION IN CT |4th Question to all participants

Full-scale consolidation is not an optimal choice for nonprofit CAPs. However, selective modifications to our configuration could optimize services, increase our relevance and be cost-effective while maintaining the unique characteristics of CT’s diverse communities.

Recommendation 1: Review Channel Capacity and reallocation of Education content to the Public and Government Channels, if current channel use does not directly support local education programs. School Sports can be Public. BOE Meetings can be Government.

Are there communities with more channel capacity than needed?  Yes

Are there CAPS that have never been able to provide the targeted 13-play threshold? Yes.

In 2005, channel capacity was reviewed without consensus: Docket 05-09-07  DPUC Review of Regulations Regarding the Required Number of Community Access Channels. Regional and town-specific access centers held very different views then. That has not changed. But detailed scrutiny of services will show that our state has some vital community media and much that is stuck in the last century. We can do better. Updating to HD, stabilizing funding and processes, and reviewing the extreme sizes, large and small for reconfigurations that serve local cost-effectively.

Since 2005, the technology landscape has changed significantly. Community media stations need the same capacity as other cable channels to be viewed in accordance with viewer habits and lifestyles. Viewers are highly unlikely to watch a 20-minute  bulletin board scroll of announcements when they can instantly search for information, or post a question in a social media forum. Snow closing announcements are no longer the hallmark of education channels. The short-form video has a significantly greater potential to be viewed than long-form but good short-form is more labor intensive.

Scheduling a channel 24 x7 with short-form content is very labor-intensive. It can take a minimum of three times longer to schedule a public channel that is supporting short-form content than a government channel with hours of meeting coverage.

Recommendation 2: Eliminate Advisory Council. The role of the Advisory Council has been diminished with the elimination of franchise renewals. Consumer cases no longer are handled by them. Most are not fully appointed. They have not actively represented community media providers in any regulatory capacity. Company government relations representatives no longer attend more than the minimum of two meetings per year.

The $2,000 and the cost of government relations participation and overall communications could help reduce the annual company costs.

Recommendation 3:  Consolidate organizations that already share resources and distribute nearly identical content.

Recommendation 4:  Encourage the transition of corporate-run to nonprofit-run centers such that independent centers affiliated with corporate are fully enabled to serve their communities and build upon their strong volunteer resources.

Recommendation 5: Adhere to the outcomes of the dockets such as reviewed PEGPETIA administration 071011re01-102319.

Q & A | Question Three – Statewide Consolidation

Study with intent to change the delivery of community media in CT

Provide and discuss recommendations regarding the state-wide consolidation of community access operations, including any benefits or detriments, or both, associated with such recommendations;

Special Act 22-23 mandates a study be conducted by PURA | NONPROFIT COMMUNITY ACCESS TELEVISION IN CT |3rd Question to all participants

WPAA-TV’s governance team sees no community benefit to collapsing the corporate areas of Comcast into Comcast-CT. They do support review of channel allocation and optimization of services where there is cross-over.

What is the meaning of state-wide consolidation?

This question is challenging because the key terms are undefined.

Is it correct to assume that this means something like a Comcast-CT, Cox-CT, Cablevision-CT, Charter-CT, Breezeline-CT, and the ‘going out of the cable TV business” Frontier-CT which has a statewide configuration? What would state-wide include: facility locations, channel allocations, subscriber rate adjustments, merging and/or dissolving non-profits? Would it influence the number of physical locations for media making?

Wallingford is in Comcast Branford.

For the purpose of this reply, statewide is assumed to mean Comcast CT including Comcast Bethel, Comcast Branford, Comcast Clinton, Comcast Danbury, Comcast Groton, Comcast Hartford, Comcast Lakeville, Comcast Lyme, Comcast Middletown, Comcast New Haven, Comcast Norwich, Comcast Plainville, Comcast Seymour, Comcast Vernon, and Comcast Waterbury.

Treating each cable company’s territories collectively as one: Who benefits?

The inclination to consider new ways to achieve broad & potentially better results is understandable. You no longer need a helicopter and cameraman to produce aerial photography; it can be achieved with a drone with some previously unachievable results. However, a panoramic view literally passes over, without giving due attention, to the meaning and purpose of the existence of P.E.G. which is to be on the ground, and hyperlocal.

In CT, we have franchise areas that represent cable company territory. These areas do not align with voting districts, regional councils of government, community foundations or arts councils, or other intersectional community connections. The absence of county government inclines CT towards town rule which contributed, in part, to the hodgepodge nature of community media delivery and any prior, or current, ideas of consolidation.

In the last franchise for what is now, Comcast Branford regional consolidation was among the options reviewed. The franchise outcome eliminated the regional company-run access station. Independent access centers’ funding and obligations increased. A 10-year franchise was awarded to AT&T. The obligation to minimally fund small communities was shifted to the larger towns and would be reassessed in the next franchise proceeding by the independent 3rd party evaluator. Absent an independent assessment, the small communities suggested they needed to be subsidized, the new cable company chose not to comment, and the burden of minimal operating expenses remained with the towns of Branford and Wallingford rather than the cable company (DOCKET NO. 10-03-02). Selective mergers were recommended at this time to remove the burden on Wallingford, in particular, and provide adequate funding for consolidated entities.

Greater Wallingford Community:  Voter Connections

Wallingford is represented in US Congress in District 3 which is the most diverse region of CT, with many Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish, Greek, Asian, Hispanic (Ecuadorian), Refugees from Middle Eastern & Africa, and African-American (oldest community Newhallville). Since reapportionment, the district includes Naugatuck Valley (the largest Portuguese-American community) and coastal towns (Guilford, Milford, and Stratford). More info here.

Wallingford is represented in the state legislature with other communities as follows:  Senate District 34:  New Haven County – Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Branford, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Milford, Naugatuck, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Prospect, Seymour, Wallingford, Waterbury (part), West Haven, Woodbridge, and  Middlesex County – Durham, Middlefield, and Middletown (part).  Our state representatives are elected by voters in Cheshire, No. Branford and Middlefield (85th, 86th, 90th, 103rd).

SCRCOG, the council of governments, is made up of fifteen municipalities: Bethany, Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Wallingford, West Haven, and Woodbridge.  Unfortunately few stories are sourced from this entity and distributed to these communities. Our fragmented presence contributes to this deficit in CT but it is a very microscopic content source and would not likely be remedied by any consolidation.

Looking at consolidation configurations by civic or service intersectionality fails to find an optimal option for the concept of community media consolidation.

Our project funding connections, which may be more critical in the future than ever, are linked to Greater New Haven.  Our business connections are Quinnipiac Chamber (Wallingford/No. Haven) affiliated with the Greater New Haven Chamber. However, we are just, if not more likely, to connect with Mid-state Chamber which is Meriden-centric. Because we are noncommercial, business affiliations present more dynamic challenges.

It is suggested that alternate funding for community media can be grants. A few community media centers have sought foundation funding. This funding is typically project-based. The immediate need is sustainable operations funding. Until there is a sustainable model for operations, adding the management of projects to what “community media” is about is at best a long-term strategic goal.

Wallingford (Comcast) has more intercommunity connections with Meriden than any other surrounding town. Our facility is used by Meriden (Cox) residents and nonprofits, in part, because it is easier to access our resources than those of the corporate-run operation.  Completion of a multi-session training, and the 4-person crew requirement, is a high bar for timeliness and commitment to the production of an idea. But it is also because several non-profits serve both towns; there is a United Way serving both towns, Spanish Community of Wallingford, the local newspaper and several other target population-specific nonprofits. The newspaper serves Southington, but we have had no direct relations with Southington. However, some of our shows are carried on by Cox so there may be indirect connections.

Conclusion:  A review of affiliation & consolidation of Wallingford within the Comcast state-wide options shows no natural partnering that benefits us.

Comcast Branford:  There are opportunities for consolidation here and at minimum channel reduction.

Intra-Wallingford: We also see the failure to incentivize intra-town P.E.G. cooperation in Wallingford as harmful to sustainability and cost-effective practices.

Q & A | Question Two – Operational Modifications

Study with intent to change the delivery of community media in CT

Discuss whether any modifications to the operations and funding of companies and organizations responsible for community access programming are needed and, if so, provide detailed descriptions of the suggested modifications.

Special Act 22-23 mandates a study be conducted by PURA | NONPROFIT COMMUNITY ACCESS TELEVISION IN CT | 2nd Question to all participants

Who are the responsible parties? Actually, since 1995 the State of CT assumed primary responsibility for oversight, accountability, and determination of funding. Presumably, the ten cable companies and one IPTV provider remain responsible for outreach and day-to-day either directly as a Cable Access Provider (CAPS) or with some oversight of nonprofits designated as CAPs in their franchise territory.

The Transformation of SB278 into SA 22-23 | A Study Special Act 22-23 authorizes a community media study.

How we got here. What should be studied? How can we have beneficial outcomes?


  1. Update the format for annual reporting starting with i.e.removing out-of-date questions.
  2. Create a comprehensive list of community media resources with all 169 towns identified with corrected contact information. Routinely, update this list when annual reports are submitted.
  3. If the state is to continue in a key administrative role after this study, a data administration ombudsman position could be helpful with ongoing review of accountability & compliance of all parties and overall community mediation.
  4. Restore the burden of compliance to the corporations using public rights-of-way for-profit versus retaining proceedings that are of a David & Goliath nature
  5. Eliminate annual processes. Replace them with an infrastructure that is more reliable and predictable. A community population is more stable than a subscriber population. Create a population base rate. Once equitable rates are set, trigger an automatic annual increase base CPI with an option for objection by a set date. This could include a minimum capital fund per entity that does not need to be restricted by the PEGPETIA cycle. This would require legislative recommendations as part of this study.


  1. Treat community media as an asset rather than a liability. This could include outreach materials, awards programs, and paid internships.
  2. Upgrade Channel capacity to HD to maximize the investment in capital funds for technology already being spent at the local level.
  3. Support a minimum and maximum operational capacity by geography and population (not subscribers) to enable more equitable delivery of services vs. statewide consolidation.
  4. Incorporate community media in the migration of the cable business to broadband strategy


  1. Adopt policies that support predictable programming.
  2. Create program production options that do not require trained community members.
  3. Expand training to include storytelling, interview techniques, and short-form production.
  4. Create Video Annual Reports to reinforce the brand.
  5. Provide services to individuals who are not cable subscribers.
  6. Collaborate with other media makers (i.e. arts, humanities) for redistribution of their content.

Q & A | Question One – Compare nonprofit & profit

Study with intent to change the delivery of community media in CT

Describe and discuss the current funding structures for both community access organizations’ operational and capital needs, including the similarities and differences in the operations and funding structures of non-profit and for-profit community access provide?

Special Act 22-23 mandates a study be conducted by PURA | NONPROFIT COMMUNITY ACCESS TELEVISION IN CT |1st Question to all participants

Nonprofits are interested in providing what people cannot provide for themselves. Some have expanded their capacity to be media centers. For-profits are interested in meeting the minimum required for regulatory compliance. For evidence, review who remained open during COVID. Who did more, differently? Testimony from Nutmeg TV included an exploration of what is, or is not available, from For-Profit Community TV in CT  (Download from here.)

Understanding what community TV is, is foundational to understanding funding structures.


A majority of CT residents have no idea that there are laws, regulations, and grandfathered agreements to use public rights of way for the commercial carriage of television content. Or, that within these arrangements with broadband companies (formerly cable TV); there is mandatory support for alternative content: Theirs.

Public, Education, and Government Access (P.E.G) is noncommercial content created by and for people within a community to be carried on cable TV. While some content can be of interest to more people than those residing in the geographic area served, the emphasis within each component of P.E.G. is expected to be local.

(P) Individuals and groups’ ideas, information, and opinions as well as a showcase for local talent, (E) Content to enhance, augment or amplify local education resources, and (G) Meetings and related activities in support of transparency in government.

Community media is expected to be narrow: serving a variety of communities of interest i.e. culture, neighborhood, need, or a common goal, or interest, while simultaneously providing exposure to a community’s diversity and opportunities. As a platform for public engagement and an exchange of ideas, community television pre-dates the Public Internet @1983 and social media (early 2000s). Its regulations (1972, 1984, 1992) are rooted in the desire to preserve local 1 and be equitably distributed.

The language morphed from P.E.G. to ‘Community Access’ providing incremental clarity of the purpose: to provide a means of accessing one’s community by participating in its conversations, storytelling, and creation of archival records. Today, the term ‘cable TV’ appears most relevant in proceedings related to limiting the scope of funding for rights-of-way uses. And while first-play policies are in place for content produced with community media resources, funded in large part with subscriber cable fees, content distribution can be simultaneously over the internet, and redistributed over a variety of platforms. The content belongs to the producer. In fact, content viewing on alternate platforms including on-demand may exceed cable TV views much like other cable television. Financial support for other platforms may not be covered by cable subscriber fees.

Funding and Fundraising: The dilemma

Any conversations about how Community Media is currently funded, and the subscriber fee, may hit upon the following themes:

  • A fee on the bill seems more like a tax than a lease-like cost for the companies.
  • Why do I need to pay for P.E.G., if I do not care about it, or view it?
  • We do not need another tax.
  • The polls use everyone’s rights-of-way, why can’t I get the content too?
  • Television is dying, so your funding will evaporate, but those polls are not going away, right?
  • I thought I could not use the community TV studio because I do not have cable TV.
  • How come I have never heard of this before? Should there be something in my bill?
  • I checked the channel out. How come it does not look as clear as the others?
  • How do I watch you? Oh, I do not have cable TV.
  • I do not get how this all works. I have ideas and opinions but no interest in learning how to use a camera.
  • How can I watch at a different time than scheduled? That has real value for me.

It would help if you all were on the same page.

CT State Representative

The absence of county government inclines CT toward town-rule which has contributed, in part, to our patchwork community media delivery. Connecticut (CT) has the most complex, inequitable mechanism for providing (P.E.G) Access, and related funding, in the nation. This is ironic due to the appearance of universal availability and cost-effective centralized administration touted as the outcome of cable-company driven 1995 legislative changes.

Twenty-five years ago structural changes were made to community media in CT akin to constructing a highway through an inner city. There was a presumption of service to all with a guarantee of P.E.G. in every town in CT. However, the heart of community media, ‘The People’ for whom the tools & stage presumed to belong, were disenfranchised.

The appeal of technological innovation and personal freedom, which was originally called the community media advocates by name, is now under study.  A study, in retrospect, was needed in 1995 when the seismic shift was codified. The discontinuance of franchise renewals further exacerbated the ‘disconnect’ with communities. The few remaining knowledgeable advocates are aging out of a system that is not designed to serve the media makers of today and the future. And those most familiar with the purpose are invested differently.

Other states in the northeast continue to have cable franchises centralized in population-dense areas serving surrounding communities. The cable access providers work together on a variety of operational and policy matters having no infrastructure-infused competition for funding. These arrangements, similarly impacted by the decline in cable subscriptions, have a base funding structure that at a minimum is 250% more than CT.

Most of the nonprofits which have affiliated around a push for change in the funding mechanisms in CT are not active in the national Alliance For Community Media (ACM). ACM is an educational, advocacy, and lobbying member organization that represents P.E.G. organizations and community media centers throughout the country. CT’s 1995 statewide regulatory changes lessened the advocacy potential of this professional alliance.

In reality, ours is a hodgepodge of corporate, regional, town, and mixed-service applications with a variety of channel capacity allocations and decades-old benchmarks for capacity, function, and service.

There is an easy way to determine who and where your community TV station is. While every community has been guaranteed the service, there is no public reference with every town identified and the affiliated community television station, not even on PURA’s website. In Wallingford, the town government refuses to include any reference to WPAA-TV on its website exacerbating this hidden-from-view scenario further.

There is also no easy way to search, and find existing community TV channels and the affiliated cable access providers and facilities. The Comcast TV Channel Guide does not refer to community access as such. The channel descriptions are ‘Local’, ‘Educational Programming’, and ‘Government Access Programming’ respectively. P.E.G channels are no longer guaranteed to be grouped together.


On at least two occasions, CT has seen self-appointed CAP alliances emerge, fostered by declining subscriber fee funding challenges. The most impactful were those aligning to support funding for technology that evolved into the passage of PEGPETIA (not supported by all CAPs). The most recent was the alliance called “Regional Community Access Providers” whose legislative initiatives (seeking streaming media fees) eventuated into this study.  In some ways this ‘out if the designated structure’ advocacy begs the question, what is the role of Advisory Councils?

Uniquely tribal, CT nonprofit CAPs (designated and independent) exist on a starvation diet and compete for scarce capital improvement funds in an unpredictable cycle-driven, regulated landscape a.k.a. PEGPETIA.  Survival requires putting hyperlocal, territorial interests above collaborative considerations.

A few negative impacts:

  • Channel Capacity Inequity: Three TV Channels can serve a small town such as No. Branford, or the combined urban communities of New Haven, Hamden, and West Haven.
  • Capital investments are purchased at a premium with the inability to leverage sales and discounts.
  • The ‘no reimbursement’ policy of capital funding restricts purchase timelines and strategic planning such as relocation which requires the implementation of a new return line.
  • Strategic efforts have been challenged by cycles, sweeps, and caps.
  • Some technology vendors maximize the funding cycle blips.
  • Industry technology is HD, or better, but channel transmission capacity is SD

For more information: https://wpaa.tv/if-nothing-but-consistent/  Sept 22 What Are We Trying To Solve? CT Community Media?

  1. The Federal Communications Commission first established rules in 1965 for cable systems that received signals from microwave antennas.  In 1966, the Commission established rules for all cable systems (whether or not served by microwave).  The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s jurisdiction over cable in United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S.  157 (1968).  The Court ruled that “the Commission has reasonably concluded that regulatory authority over CATV is imperative if it is to perform with appropriate effectiveness certain of its responsibilities.”  The Court found the Commission needed authority over cable systems to assure the preservation of local broadcast service and to effect an equitable distribution of broadcast services among the various regions of the country.
  2. Interested in the cable company perspective: Docket Response from NECTA here.
  3. A comparison of the company versus nonprofit structure and operations expectations follows.

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