Friday, April 24, 2015

Davis Media Access: Reimagining public media

From page A3 | June 29, 2012 |

Special to The Enterprise

I write extensively about media policy in this country, and read even more. Still, I was quite surprised reading a June 21 article in the Columbia Journalism Review in which Davis Media Access is held up — among a mere handful of community media centers across the country — as part of a solution that might be used to address our country’s broken commercial broadcast model.

The article (“Building a multi-platform media for — and by — the public”) is written by Benjamin Lennett and Tom Glaisyer. It talks about the backlash from commercial broadcasters against a new Federal Communications Commission rule that requires commercial broadcasters to disclose their records on political ad spending.

It’s a simple rule change, one not so different from others that require broadcasters, as trustees of the public airwaves, to create and retain public files. Yet, broadcasters are fighting against this one tooth and nail.

Lennett and Glaisyer question the ferocity of the response, make note of commercial broadcasters’ largely unfulfilled public service obligations, and conclude, “If the broadcasters fight simple transparency requirements, should we ever expect them to dedicate significant time and resources to programming that informs the public?”

The article goes on to detail a decades-old proposal that would eliminate public-interest obligations and instead assess broadcasters a fee that essentially would support public broadcasting. Lennett and Glaisyer cite more recent scholarship that posits public media as having four layers: “infrastructure, creation, curation and connection,” all of which produce content that will be distributed across “newly reconfigured public media networks.”

They write: “We have to let go of the idea that public media is solely the responsibility of a small number of broadcast entities. We need to fund entities that support each of these ‘four layers.’

“Imagine a multiplatform public media that combined the production quality of PBS’ ‘American Experience,’ the reporting quality of NPR’s ‘Morning Edition,’ the content curation of Wikipedia — and the level of community engagement that exists for some public access cable television channels and low-power FM radio.

“In some communities there is already institutional movement in this direction, ready to be supported with more funding. Public access cable (PEG) television channels, funded almost exclusively out of franchise fees levied by local or state governments for access to public rights of way, are expanding beyond their traditional cable programming to include other media platforms such as radio.

“In Davis, Calif., the PEG station Davis Media Access also houses the local low-power radio station KDRT, which offers locally produced musical, cultural, educational and public affairs programming. Media Bridges, the PEG channel in Cincinnati, Ohio, operates a low-power radio station, WVQC, that features local artists and musicians.

“Imagine if these entities were funded to partner with the local public radio and television stations. You would have the reach of public television and radio with the local content and grassroots engagement of community media.”

While I am pleased that DMA is mentioned among such stellar company (the article also gives a nod to the Davis Wiki and several other community media colleagues), I’m neither naïve nor optimistic enough to believe that the National Association of Broadcasters would ever let this idea slip past their net of lobbyists.

And, after 16 years in the trenches of community media development, I sometimes wish DMA’s work was as relatively simple as selling commercial air time. We not only create and curate the content, we provide that opportunity for community members, help out as many community-based groups as we can, and raise money to keep it all going.

That’s the community engagement this article mentions, and I’m very proud of the community service we provide.

— Autumn Labbé-Renault is executive director of Davis Media Access, an organization providing access to, and advocacy for, local media. She writes this column monthly. Find out more about DMA at



Autumn Labbe-Renault

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery



    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12





    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery



    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery



    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5