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Columbia Access Television faces Potential Funding Cuts

television set

Columbia Access Television might soon lose all of its city funding.

CAT TV was planning to receive $50,000 for the 2016 fiscal year but Mayor Bob McDavid proposed a new amendment that will take one-time funding, which includes CAT TV’s funds, and add it to the police department’s budget for one year.

According to Second Ward Council member Michael Trapp, the decision to cut CAT TV’s funding was made a couple of years ago, but he does not believe they should be completely cut quite yet. Trapp is in favor of supporting them for one more year, but feels that they should be financially independent by next year.

“I think we’ve been able to prop up and support CAT TV as they work on their own fundraising plan over the last several years and that seems more fair and equitable than just cutting them off overnight as was proposed several years ago,” Trapp said.

Trapp said he spoke with CAT-TV Executive Director Jennifer Erickson and encouraged her to pursue community development block grant funds since he does believe the station adds to Columbia’s sense of place and identity.

Erickson says she’s worried by the funding cut because of what it means for the community.

“Whittling down city support of public access makes it difficult for us to reach our mission. We maintain affordable membership fees so community members can learn important resume building skills, we put high tech media equipment in the hands of our youth, our non-profits, our families so that all may share their diverse voices. CAT has a clear focus on local programming,” Erickson said.

Erickson hopes that the city can somehow adjust the budget so that CAT TV can keep its funding. Specifically, she mentioned how public access is part of the PEG channels budget which involves public, educational, and government access. She claims that the new budget will have nearly $400,000 allotted for government access, which runs the city channel, but nothing for education and public access. Erickson strongly believes this budget should be split to allow CAT TV to stay a part of the city’s budget. 

Trapp encourages people to speak with their elected representatives and voice any concerns before the council decides on the amendment at the next city council meeting on September 21.