Atlanta’s public access channel—People TV—has averted closing its doors on Dec. 31, 2012 because municipal officials have agreed to partially fund the station through March 31, 2013, and possibly beyond if People TV makes changes the city agrees with.
Charlotte Engel, People TV’s CEO and general manager, tells Government Video Atlanta had said it would not renew People TV’s contract when it expired on Dec. 31, but the station is now “not in financial trouble.” The city “elected to not provide any additional funding for People TV, but has offered to the board of directors to extend, until March 31, the agreement,” Engel said. During the extension period the city wants the People TV board to restructure the public access channel, she said.
“The city wants access to begin from scratch,” Engel said in a letter to the channel’s producers. “If the city agrees to the strategic plan and the structure the board puts together, they [Atlanta] plan to give People TV $350,000 for 2013 and 2014,” she tells GV.
However, $350,000 for 2013 and 2014 will not meet People TV’s financial needs, but “it can keep the doors open,” Engle said. How much funding People TV needs for 2013 and 2014 is not fixed because it is based on the type of broadcast service People TV is expected to provide to the community, she said. “If they [the city] want it to be a plug and play, with one person here and the board running everything else for free, then they can probably make it. But there’s a lot that goes on that costs.”
In addition, Engel says while People TV has been allotted more time, it will continue without her because she can no longer deal with the political situation surrounding the access channel. “The [People TV] board has asked me to stay, but I am no longer interested in dealing with the agonizing ongoing politics regarding this organization and this city’s administration,” she wrote.