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Funding Cuts Close, Threaten Cincinnati-Area PEG Channels

Princeton Instructional Media ceases broadcasts and Media Bridges is near terminal

Budget cuts are impacting two long-time Cincinnati area public and education cable television channels with one forced to close and the other not expecting to last into next year.

Princeton Instructional Media, the former education channel for the Princeton City School District, has been eliminated from the school system’s budget. PIM was a production studio that streamed its programs over the Inter-Community Cable Regulatory Commission, a PEG cooperative operating in the suburbs of Cincinnati.

When the school district eliminated funding for PIM, all the studio production staff was laid off, says an ICCR official. “The school couldn’t afford the production studio anymore,” the official said.

In addition, Media Bridges, the studio that manages Cincinnati’s PEG channels, is expected to close by the end of 2013 because the municipal government ended funding for its PEG channels.

The chances that Media Bridges will survive into 2014 are “slim and none,” said Tom Bishop, the studio’s director. “Cincinnati is going through a huge budget crisis, police and fire fighters are being laid off, we were informed that as part of the 2013 budget process we would not be funded in 2014,” he said.

Ohio has statewide franchising, which includes a provision to eliminate funding above the franchise fee, Bishop says. In Cincinnati the government channel is funded by the franchise fee, but it is funding above the franchise fee that supports public and educational access channels, and that money went away about 18 months ago, he says.

Because of the reduction in appropriations by the city, Media Bridges undertook a fundraising effort, but the money produced by that effort is not enough to sustain a full-fledged operation, Bishop says. Therefore, in mid-June Media Bridges’ board will meet and “make some final decisions” on the channel and radio station, he says. “I’ll then be able to talk about what our future is going to be.”

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