Friday, June 13, 2008

By the way, who funds TVW?

You do.

Read this document on Scribd: TVW0397 Web AnnRep F150

According to TVW's 2006 Annual Report, 18 percent of their funding comes from the state of Washington. That more than $2 million state appropriation is off-set by just less than $10 million in in-kind contributions -- the balance is the free access to cable air-waves the channel enjoys.

Here's TVW's own description of how they're funded:

TVW is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation, not a government agency. It is governed by an independent board of directors. The majority of TVW's operating cash - approximately $2.5 million per year - comes from the Legislature via a contract-for-service through the Secretary of State. TVW receives more than $11 million per year in the form of in-kind contributions of channel space from Washington's cable television industry.

Also included in the public contribution to TVW was $3 million for new digital equipment (beware large PDF) a couple of years ago.

I for one am super-super happy we give money to TVW. Heck, I think we should give more, maybe three times as much a year. TVW is one of the greatest things we spend money on in this state.

But, on the other hand, if they operate on the public dime, we should be able to question their silly copyright that keeps the public at arms length from what they're doing with our money.

Here's another point: their most cherished asset is the "gavel-to-gavel" coverage they provide of the state legislature and the state supreme court. Those cameras and audio taping equipment are housed permanently in public facilities. We give TVW more access to our public proceedings than we give any other entity. Even if we didn't pay $2 million plus to keep TVW going, we should have a say what happens to recordings of our public proceedings.

All that said, I still understand why they're nervous about letting go of what they consider their content. They feel like they're beholden to elected officials, and if those electeds feel like TVW is becoming a content-supplier for attack ads, the legislature would be less likely to fund TVW.

I don't want to point out the obvious, but those elected officials are beholden to the voting public who might have a different opinion about who should have what kind of access to TVW content.

So, if you care, contact your legislative members and let them know that TVW should liberalize their copyright.

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