Friday, December 30, 2005

The Problem with Public Access Television - Part 1

The 411 Show - I received a call from Lisa Sorg, the editor of Current Magazine in San Antonio. She left a message that she wanted to know how the possible pulling of the public access channel 20 in San Antonio would affect me and the show that I produce. That was the first I had heard of it and
I took a big gasp as I heard her message. What the hell was going on? I was in the middle of a class with Michael Verdi at Node101 (video blogging classes) and decided to wait until after class to return her call. By that time I had received another call from someone at Time Warner ( I will not reveal their name), wanting to check if I had heard the news yet and wanting to fill me in. That was the beginning of a very long week. I was dumbfounded by the news. As I checked further, it turns out that the Cable companies had sneaked in a bill thru the Texas State legislature during the summer during a special session that was suppose to change school financing inTexas.

Apparently the bill, Senate Bill 5, passed thru the legislature after only 10 minutes of debate, which means they probably didn't even read it (the bill is 80 pages) and basically cut off Public Access Television at the pass. And worse the cable companies are trying to do the same in other states across the country, with little notice from the paying public. Because of this bill, the cable companies are no longer responsible for public access programming, and only need to provide the channel. Previously they were providing the studio, equipment and staff assistance to produce shows. Now the Cities are responsible for that. That means that cities are now in the broadcasting business. They now are responsible for the production, equipment and airing of the shows for the Education, Government and Public Access (PEG for short) channels. And it gets worse. Time Warner filed a lawsuit in Texas challenging the 1% they are suppose to turn over to the city to fund this, so now the city doesn't have any of the funds to do this either, and it would
have to come out of the general fund of the city. We are talking millions. So for now, we are in wait and see mode, to see what happens on January 1, 2006. All the channels may go black for who knows how long. All of us as citizens should be outraged at our legislatures to let this happen. The cable companies have basically flicked us off as if we were a mere mosquito bothering them, instead of their paying customers. The Public Access Producers in San Antonio went to the last City Council meeting of the year on Dec 15, 2005, to voice our concerns. We were told to be there at 1:00 pm. After waiting for all the end of year business by the city, such as annexations and grants/bonds etc. (the city gave away about 3 million of the city's funds within a matter of hours), and after the "ceremonials" (awards/recognitions) were given out. After 6 hours of waiting for our turn to speak and at about 7:00 in the evening we had our chance to speak to a expressionless, mute and apparently disinterested City Council. (they had a christmas party to go to) By that time we were all seething. Producers lined up to voice their concerns, many with anger in their voices. However after about 45 minutes, the City Council cut everyone off and did not hear the rest of the Producers. The City then tabled the issue until the next City Council meeting, on Jan 12, 2006. Meanwhile the channels will not be broadcasting anything.

So why should people outside of Texas be concerned? Because this is the model the cable companies want to use for the whole nation. At least 3 states are now under this model. They (cable companies) do not want to have to deal with individual cities and want to negotiate agreements at the state level, and in the process the Public Access Channels are being decimated (destroyed). Your state is probably next on the list. So the chaos that is happening in San Antonio for the Public Access TV Channels may soon come to a TV screen near you. The public airwaves should be there to serve the public, not the media companies. Never forget that.

For more background info check out the article in San Antonio Current Magazine. ********

Other article "Fade to Black" in San Antonio Current can be linked to from above article.

To read an article about The 411 Show in San Antonio Current Magazine from 2004, click on this link:

Produced by 411 Productions

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Belly Dancer Katrina 7 years old

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The 411 Show. (File may take a few minutes to load on Windows Media Player/Quicktime) Katrina is a seven year old Middle Eastern(Belly) dancer with the Karavan Dance Company. She was one of the first performers we had on our show and was very professional at the ripe old age of 7. She danced two full 5 minute songs, which we were worried that she might not finish during the taping. But she was a pro and was dancing freestyle the whole time. For more info on Karavan Dance company go to .

Espanol: Katrina tiene 7 anos y baila el baile del vientre. Se porto muy profesional cuando la estabamos grabando.

Produced by 411 Productions

Monday, December 26, 2005

Art During Times of War- (15min)

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(Files may take a few minutes to load on Windows Media Player or Quicktime.) The 411 Show on Art During Times of War. Do tastes in art/music change during times of war? A discussion on art forms that reflect issues around "War". Filmed in late 2004 during the Iraq War 5 months after the show began airing. The backdrop includes poster/collage art compiled by poet Richie Polendo, 20 yrs old. Melissa and Nadia-15 yrs old.

Produced by 411 Productions

Monday, December 19, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Internet Outlets for Teens-Part 2 (20 min)

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(File may take time to load on Windows Media Player/Quicktime.) The 411 Show - This is the remaining minutes of the show (20) with Nadia-15, Morgan-12 years old. See previous post for narrative on show.

Produced by 411 Productions

Monday, December 12, 2005

Internet Outlets for Teens-Part 1 (4 min)

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The 411 Show. This is the 1st show that Morgan, 12 years old did. We recruited him from a City Council meeting in Helotes TX, (just outside San Antonio). There was a big battle in this small town of 4000 over Wal-Mart coming in and ruining their natural scenic landscape (they stopped Wal-Mart). This was his 1st show, so you can see the tension on his face. Also the technical producer got his name wrong and thought his name was Dylan, due to a portion of the show mentioning Dylan. What is interesting about Morgan was that he was not even allowed to watch TV at home, and here he is doing a TV show. He does use the Internet but really did not know much about blogging, which explains some of the looks on his face that say "I really have no idea what your talking about. " He went on to do about 6 more shows with us and developed his own style.

Nadia (16 yrs) had already been doing the show for over 6 months, so she appears much more relaxed in this show.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Introduction to 411 Productions

Empowering Youth with the Media Arts

The 411 Show. 411 Productions, a non-profit organization, was created to give youth an experience in the Media Arts via working on a TV Show. The purpose was to give youth a talkshow venue to discuss topics of interest and a unique experience in the Media Arts. The show was originally airing in San Antonio Texas, USA. However due to changes in progamming, the Public Access Channel in San Antonio is being shut down as of January 1st, 2006 (more on that later). Therefore we are expanding the show to be presented as a video blog.

The show is targeted towards youth, generally from 9 to 2o years old. A variety of topics are covered, generally one topic per show. Each show normally includes one or two hosts and up to two or three guests. The hosts and guests are rotated and include youth from different areas of the city and different schools. The shows also feature young performers showing their talents such as singing, dancing, reading poetry, playing an instrument, etc.

The topics discussed on the show may be light or serious, but generally are of social significance that address society as a whole. Topics we've covered have included; the environment, politics, youth behavior and pop culture.

The show is written and produced by youth with coaching from a mentor. We seek to encourage and educate youth on being able to affect the Media they watch and to counteract the negative media stereotypes that are normally seen on TV and other media outlets portraying youth. We use the production of the show as a hands on teaching tool. We hope to grow this endeavor to include youth from all over the U.S. , and even internationally. Our motto is, "Empowering Youth with the Media Arts".

We will be sharing our work with you by posting some of the shows we have produced. Our hope is that all who see our work will enjoy it, see the value in it and encourage others to get youth involved in influencing and having a voice in the media they watch and listen to.

If you would like more information on our organization, would like to become a sponsor or would like to start a chapter of 411 Productions in your own city please feel free to contact us for information.

Patsy Robles
Executive Producer
411 Productions
411 Show San Antonio USA

To read an article from 2004 about the 411 Show, click on the following link: