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Don't touch that dial

May 06, 2008

Re "The cancellation of Channel 36," Opinion, May 1

Patt Morrison's column highlights plans to eliminate funding for L.A.'s Channel 36, a subject that would have received little attention otherwise.

Cable TV subscribers in Los Angeles pay millions in taxes known as franchise fees to City Hall. The system was set up to ensure that the public had access to important programming covering government, education and other community organizations.

For years, politicians in City Hall have used franchise fees to fund their vanity channel -- Channel 35 -- which is designed to highlight all the good things the city does for its residents. In contrast, the already paltry funding for the channel that solicits and produces programming from local colleges, universities and other community organizations -- Channel 36 -- is on the chopping block.

It would be a total betrayal to taxpayers if City Hall moves ahead with this rip-off of franchise funds. Instead, Los Angeles should follow the model set by Pasadena and contract with the nonprofit public access channel to provide coverage of City Hall at a fraction of the $3 million that it is spending on Channel 35.

Geoffrey Baum

Los Angeles

The writer is the managing director of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership.

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Morrison hits the nail on the head. The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles is one of many organizations that distributes information through Channel 36. Tens of thousands more people receive this information than would be likely to attend a live meeting.

The Los Angeles County league most recently sponsored a candidates' forum on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors 2nd District race, a debate that perhaps 100 attended but that will be broadcast on Channel 36 many times. The league has contracted with Channel 36 to tape forums exploring issues that can be broadcast to thousands and streamed on the Internet.

What other media venue has the communities' interests at heart?

Liza White

President, League of

Women Voters

of Los Angeles

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