Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

News :: [none]

CAN-TV Supporters Pack City Council Chambers

Supporters of community television packed to overflowing the galleries of Chicago City Council chambers today for a Finance Committee hearing about the fate of funding for Chicago Access Network Television (CAN-TV).
At issue was cable giant RCN’s reneging on its promise to pay the non-profit CAN-TV $645,000 in exchange for a potentially lucrative expansion of its service area.

Despite being held during working hours, the protest against RCN drew a large turnout from a wide array of community groups. This was probably because, as with indy media, many groups use CAN-TV to get their messages out since sound bites on the evening news often trivialize their issues. Several people familiar with other City Council protests over the years remarked that this was the first time they remember both the downstairs and upstairs galleries being filled to overflowing.

Predictably enough, RCN representatives at the hearing pleaded “poverty” as the reason they couldn’t pay CAN-TV. Yet the $645,000 due represents a mere .001% of the firm’s annual expenses. And failure to pay this paltry amount (by RCN’s standards) would be a body blow to CAN-TV, as it represents one quarter of the non-profit’s budget.

Of the aldermen I heard speak at the meeting, all voiced opposition to RCN’s default on the payment which was due on January 7th. This represented a rare moment of courage for the normally supine City Council, a body better known for signing off on sweetheart deals to big business mayoral contributors than for standing up to corporate power. Thus, we would do ourselves and community television a huge disservice if we simply took the aldermen’s statements at face value – it is important that we judge RCN and the aldermen by what they DO, and not what they SAY.

RCN has made it clear they intend to play hard ball. So in my opinion, for the City Council to simply say they oppose RCN, without backing up those statements with ACTION, is not good enough. Until RCN is faced with the prospect of losing their lucrative franchise, they probably won’t act.

It’s time for the Council to put the rubber to the road: they need to give RCN a short deadline for payment in full to CAN-TV, say a few months, and say that if payment is not received by that date, their franchise will be revoked as of that date. RCN has strung us along since January, and we will be fools if we allow them off the hook by not demanding the aldermen take firm measures against them.

As I had to return to work well before the end of the hearing, I definitely encourage others at the hearing, especially people from CAN-TV, to add their comments to this report.


Department of Full Disclosure: One of the many temp jobs I’ve worked over the past year was at RCN’s new headquarters in one of the renovated Montgomery Wards buildings on Chicago Avenue. Apparently they’ve got enough money to rent or purchase these huge new facilities, but are too cheap to live up to their obligations to the community.



Account Login

Media Centers


This site made manifest by dadaIMC software