PRINCETON, NJ - December 16, 2019 - Audience seats at the Princeton Town Council meeting will be filled tonight with supporters of Princeton Community Television (PCTV), located at 1 Monument Drive, Princeton, one of the few public access channels left in the country. On April 1, the township's negotiating committee unilaterally declared an impasse in the negotiations between the town and PCTV on a new three-year contract. The town's action left PCTV without any funding for 2019. PCTV had received $232,000 in cable franchise fees in 2018. In January, 2019, the town received a total of $369,000 in cable franchise fees for 2019 from Verizon and Comcast, representing 3% of the franchise fees received by these companies from cable subscribers.
“Over the last 23 years, we’ve established ourselves as one of the jewels of this township,” said PCTV Chairman of the Board Lew Goldstein. “We are not allocated as much money as other institutions in town, but we serve a huge need, not only for the residents of this town, but also to students who do internships with us, to the nonprofits and organizations who request our services, and we have grown as evidenced by our potential viewing audience of over 100 million viewers. We have grown to become the premier community local access station in the Northeast.”
PCTV, which is not part of the municipal budget, began as a simple cable station in 1997, when it was founded using funds the town collected from cable TV providers as compensation for serving customers within town limits. The law required cable franchise fees be used to support community television. When the law changed during this decade, allowing towns the option of using the funds for community television or for property tax relief, Princeton decided to continue to support PCTV.
PCTV has grown over the years into a multi-platform media distribution organization. PCTV broadcasts to thousands of homes throughout the greater Princeton area. Beyond its cablecast, the station reaches a wider audience via its online broadcast on its website, Vimeo, Roku, Apple TV & Amazon FireStick. Additionally, the Princetontv.org website averages 95,000 hits a month.
“I’m sure the mayor and council have a lot of other pressing things that are going on in this town,” Goldstein said. “We should be the last of their concerns because we have always publicized them very well. They have in the past always spoken very highly about us and come on our various shows to promote the town. It really is a mystery as to why they are now doing a 180 degree reversal without allocating sufficient time and money for a transition.”
PCTV employs two full-time employees and one part-time staff member. Goldstein said PCTV is rich in the services it provides, giving a voice to local nonprofits through their Community Partners Program. Some of the organizations that have, and continue to benefit from PCTV, include: Princeton Youth Ballet, Princeton Community Housing, Princeton Blairstown Center, Princeton Pro Musica, and the Trenton School Based Youth Services Program.
The station has also done work for countless other organizations, including: League of Women Voters; Affordable Housing; Corner House; Princeton Community Housing; Princeton University (Petey Greene Program);Princeton University Preparatory program helping low income students attend college; (Princeton University Prize in Race Relations; Princeton University Lewis Çenter for the Arts; Princeton University Department of African American Studies; Centurion Ministries; Princeton Public Schools; HiTops; Trenton School District; Elm Court Senior and Low Income Affordable Housing; Princeton Police Department; Nassau Film Festival; Epilepsy Foundation of NJ; Princeton Recreation Department; Princeton Public Library;Princeton Human Services; Send Hunger Packing; Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund;The Suppers Programs; Autism Services of NJ; Princeton Community Area Foundation; Arc Mercer;Princeton Merchants Association; National Association of Mental Illness Mercer County (NAMI); Environmental NonProfits including Sustainable Princeton and C-Change Conversations; Susan B. Koman Foundation for Cancer Awareness; literacy groups including Room to Read and Grand Pals; Institute for Advanced Studies; Princeton Theological Seminary; Anchor House; Womenspace; Princeton Symphony Orchestra; McCarter Theater; Princeton University Art Museum; The Witherspoon-Jackson Development Corporation (WJDC); Princeton Historical Society; Unbroken Warriors and various veteran organizations.
PCTV also offers numerous educational opportunities. The PCTV Internship Program is an intensive, hands-on, immersive learning experience whereby students are given the opportunity to intern for Princeton TV. Students from Mercer County Schools have been able to take advantage of the program, including: Hun School, Princeton High School, Stuart School, West Windsor Plainsboro, New York University, and Princeton University.
Another invaluable service that Princeton TV provides are video production and digital media classes for Podcasting, Video, Camera, Audio, Lighting, Editing, Green Screen, On Air Presence, On Air Makeup, Social Media, and Photography.
Programming at PCTV ranges from local organization talk shows to an award-winning documentary created through the station’s Community Partners Project. Supporters of PCTV point out that the station is unique and offers an invaluable service to the community. Supporters contend that moving to eliminate the station would be a huge loss to the community, the many organizations that benefit from having a professional facility help them market their cause, students learning the ins and out of broadcasting, seniors and veterans who use the services that PCTV offers, and many local businesses who partner with PCTV to promote their services.
“We don’t want to go down the legal route, that’s our last resort,” Goldstein said. “We’d rather have this settled face to face, and both sides are creative enough to find common ground, but time is running out. We’d like to resolve this, but if we are in danger of having the lights turned out on our TV station, we will unfortunately need to follow through.”
At the council meeting tonight, supporters will come out to support PCTV, a public access station that has offered them vast opportunities over the years to learn and reach millions of viewers with their message, giving them a voice and the support they need to make a difference in their community and leave a positive impact on the world. For more information about PCTV, go to www.princetontv.org.