Is PEG Television Relevant in a Social Media World?

I’m re-posting this blog entry on PEG from 2010.

With technology today, a person interested in producing a video is as easy as pulling out a smart phone and shooting video and uploading it to Facebook or YouTube or some other type of interactive social media network. Anyone with access to widely available video recording devices can produce and distribute video. Add a mac or pc to the mix and now you can produce a fully edited video clip for distribution. So with these capabilities in our hands, is there any reason to support Public, Educational and Governmental (“PEG”) television?

PEG Channels are cable channels that are typically operated by cities or counties. A “Public Access” channel is generally open to anyone who wants to put some type of video programming on the channel. It is the public soapbox in the cable television world. An “Education Access” channel is typically a channel that is programmed by the local school district or college/university and could contain classroom instruction or video of school board meetings and other school activities, like a school pep fest. A channel that shows local government meetings and other information on the local community is a “Government Access” channel. These PEG channels have been around for about 30 years now.

While there are new and inexpensive ways to produce video, PEG operations still allow people to produce video in a higher quality and shown to a local audience. While you can put a video out on YouTube, the chances of it being seen by significant numbers of people is still very small. There are still some financial obstacles to producing video. Although the technology to produce a decent quality video has decreased significantly over the years, there are still many people that simply do not have access to the cameras to shoot the video, the computers to edit the video, or the internet to upload the content. Many PEG operations also provide training to help new producers make quality video productions. Sometimes these productions are later shown on other channels, such as PBS. Volunteer producers go on to careers in video production.

The audience of the PEG channels should also not be underestimated. For example, folks who want to know what is going on with their local government need only tune into their local government access channel. They will likely see the council or board meetings that they are interested in, shows about current city/county/state projects, and perhaps bulletin board notices with important information. Viewers know where this information is and the amount of content exceeds what you can put on a social networking site.

Is PEG Television relevant in a social media world? Yes! Should local governments exclude the use of social media? No! Local governments can and should use social media to highlight good programming and information. Robust viewership is good for the future of the PEG channels and good for the cable operator providing the channels. Food for thought!

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Mike Bradley
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