Editor's note: The following op-ed piece is from the new station manager for Durango Community Access Television,Preston Edward Benson.
As the new station manager for Durango Community Access Television, I would like to extend greetings to the residents
of Southwest Colorado that the station serves.
La Plata, Montezuma, Archuleta and San Juan counties share a region, but creating community requires much more than
just living in geographical proximity and doing business together. It requires communication that possesses a local
awareness of our shared lives, shared goals and shared culture - communication that gives us an awareness of each
other that is fleeting in the rise of global media conglomerates.
As a sorely needed supplement to the recent bleak news coverage about DCAT, I'd like to clarify that despite
financial setbacks, political squabbles and the impacts of globalism, your community television station is still
operational and open to the public.
While the station may be operating with just two part-time employees and half the office hours it had last year, it's
my intention to work with people of this area to bring more local programming that is relevant and important to
I'm here to assist and empower you as you create your own programming. Channel 22 is your station, the DCAT studio is
your studio, the video equipment - it's all yours.
Our raison d'être is to provide an affordable means for individuals and nonprofit organizations in our community to
have a voice on cable television alongside corporate media whose primary goal is advertising revenues.
We rent video cameras, tripods, microphones, light kits and everything you could need for your production for an
affordable fee. For post-production, you can rent laptops with editing software or come into the station and work on
one of our editing bays. Don't forget you can also hire DCAT to film your organization's events. The only restriction
is that if you use our equipment, your program must air on our channel and can't be used commercially.
It is my primary objective to connect you with the resources to tell a story about your community, about your
environment, about yourself. So come on in, give me a call, volunteer or sign up for our classes for video
production, storytelling and editing.
Cable companies are required by law to pay local government up to 5 percent of their gross revenues, which amounts
locally to about $160,000 to $180,000 a year. It is this franchise fee that funds most community access channels
across the country, but people must demand that a fair share of those funds are directed to Community Access.
Currently, $155,000 goes to fund what essentially is a no-bid contract to a for-profit production company for the
operation of City Span Channel 10 (Government Access), whereas only $5,000 goes to your local nonprofit Community
I would like to see this wonderful community resource revived in years to come. I believe in it. The question of the
station's future existence is not a question of politics and finance. It's not a question of whether we have
community. The question is do the people of this region want community? Or are we content to shuck off community in
exchange for a membership card in the global village? I shudder to think that many people are, but I, personally, am