FCAT not in turmoil
Several people have mentioned a significant error in my recent letter (Aug. 7) to this page. I mistakenly wrote “They (Nevada County Board of Supervisors) have given FCAT $1,500 for the past three years….” Actually, they have given FCAT $15,000 each of the past three years. I apologize to the BOS for this misrepresentation. We at FCAT appreciate their support.
That said, FCAT remains severely underfunded. Here’s the math. Approximately 10,000 households in Nevada County subscribe to AT&T cable TV, which carries FCAT on channel 11. On their bills they each pay a franchise fee, which, in my case, is now $1.86 every month. This amount times 12 months times 10,000 household subscribers totals approximately $223,000 each year collected by AT&T for franchise fees. These fees are given to the three governmental bodies in Western Nevada County: Nevada County, Grass Valley and Nevada City. This total may not be exact, but it’s in the ballpark.
In most similar towns in California, about 60 percent of total franchise fees is given to the public access station. But FCAT only receives 9 percent of the total franchise fees, totalling $20,000 ($15,000 from the county, $5,000 from Grass Valley, nothing from Nevada City). The Web page at http://www.buskegroup.com gives detailed information about the income sources of other PEG TV stations. In comparison, FCAT continues to struggle financially as the orphaned step-child.
When FCAT goes to these governing bodies and asks for more financial support, we are not asking for a “handout,” as has been implied on this page. We are asking for what is rightfully ours. It is absurdly unrealistic to expect a TV station to operate well on this meager budget. Imagine how well your company or family would operate on 15 percent of your current budget.
Finally, a recent headline said FCAT was “A vision in turmoil.” This sensationalization may sell newspapers, but it does not accurately describe FCAT now, and does a major disservice to an organization that struggles heroically in the face of extensive handicaps. FCAT is not in “turmoil.” It deserves the support of our fine community.
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“There is a cult of ignorance in this country … nurtured by the false notion that ‘my ignorance is as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov, 1980.