Column: Would you like to be on TV?

careyImagine how deprived of local news we would be if our only printed news source was large-circulation newspapers. If the only places we could read about events in Rye were the New York City or countywide papers; we would not know much about local events. There simply isn’t enough space in a newspaper that tries to cover most of the world for the kind of local news that we need in order to keep up with what is going on here at home.

So we in Rye are fortunate to have the Rye City Review, Rye Record, etc. to supplement the daily papers. Only with their focus on our community can we hope to be up to date on important local happenings through print media. Only in them can we, if so inclined, see our own views in print through letters to the editor or possibly more detailed articles.

The relationship between regional and local newspapers is paralleled by that between commercial television and the public access that we enjoy here through Rye TV. Thanks to New York State legislation and to the initiative of the Rye City Council, we have Channels 39 and 75 for following City Council and other local government proceedings, Channels 40 and 77 for educational programs, and Channels 33 and 76 for shows produced by Rye residents through public access.

The reason for the two overlapping channels is Rye has contracts with two cable providers, Cablevision and Verizon. For example, Verizon provides Channel 33 while Cablevision gives us Channel 76. Both channels provide identical programming.

What public access means is that people who live or work in Rye—or have a sponsor who does—have the right to have shown on Rye TV any video they have produced and have it aired on a first-come-first-served basis so long as it is not obscene or commercial. In Rye, public access also means that camera and editing equipment as well as training are available free of charge from the Rye TV staff.

Just as local newspapers are essential in order to supplement large-circulation papers, so also public access TV is needed to supplement commercial television. It would be tragic if all of television were monopolized by major networks and cable operators. Thanks to the foresight of the New York State Legislature and the Rye City Council, localized TV coverage can be provided that would be of little or no interest to large commercial stations.

There are important differences between print and electronic news media. Newspapers are unregulated except by the limits of libel law and financial resources. Anyone with the resources can start a newspaper. No governmental approval is needed, at least not in a democracy. In contrast, the available airwaves are limited and therefore are parceled out by government agencies. Part of the airwaves is allocated for small local operators and producers.

In Rye, the channels allocated for small local operators and producers are Channels 33, 39 and 40, as well as 75, 76 and 77; 39 and 75 have official producers, the City Council and other city agencies. Channels 40 and 77 air material from the community’s educational institutions. Channel 33 and 76, in contrast, have no professional producers, only individuals who want to take advantage of the unique opportunity that public access provides.

Public access provides a chance for members of the pubic to express their views. And so a great variety of interviews and individual appearances have been aired on channels 33 and 76. But these have been by invitation from local volunteer producers. People with an interest in speaking as individuals or in conducting interviews have made their own arrangements. This process has added variety with a local flavor to the entertainment available for viewers. But it has not gone far enough in utilizing public access to the fullest.

Appearances on channels 33 and 76 by invitation from volunteer producers are fine as far as they go. But what about the person who would like to say something on TV but has not been invited? Such a person, of whom there must be many, needs an opportunity to step up and say, “I want to be on TV.”

If you would like to be on Rye TV, just call the RTV Studio at 967-9106 and say you would like to appear on TV. If available, a volunteer producer will be asked to work with you. Please provide your name, phone number, email address, the subjects you would like to discuss and the date and time you would prefer for your show to be produced. Also let us know how many DVD copies of your finished show you would like to purchase from RTV, to give to friends and relations, or even potential employers.

It is important for officials of the governing bodies and educational authorities in Rye to be heard on TV explaining their intentions. But it is also important for members of the public to have equal time. That they have, thanks to public access on RTV channels 33 and 76.

One last thing. As a precaution, I would like to find out where my family and I can go on these bitterly cold days, if the heat goes off in our house. There is no information given on the City web site