Wednesday, July 07, 1999

Cable access producers head to town




BY JOHN KIESEWETTER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When hundreds of TV producers roll into Cincinnati today, don't expect to see long lines of limos.

        Don't look for huge mobile production trucks, makeup trailers and miles of cable.

        These TV producers are like you and me — except they are involved with public access centers at their local cable TV systems.

        More than 500 public access producers from the United States and 10 other countries are here for the 22nd annual Alliance for Community Media international conference at the Omni Netherland Hotel.

        They produce the community documentaries, religious programs, dramas, municipal meetings, cultural shows and sports programs.

        For the rest of this week, the visitors will attend workshops about everything from starting educational access programs for schools to placing video and audio on a Web site. Sessions are planned on promotion, closed captioning, using music, writing grants, teaching video production in high schools and designing Web pages. Some of the sessions will be telecast live on Time Warner's countywide access Channel 24, and InterMedia's Channel 21.

        “The most important thing for cable access is that considerable outreach be done for schools and the nonprofit institutions,” says Joyce Miller, director of Cincinnati Community Video, the access center for Time Warner's Cincinnati franchise.

        “They really must work hard with all the cultural agencies and social service organizations ... so the channels aren't just filled with people doing self-serving programs and music videos.”

        In Greater Cincinnati, getting non-profit groups involved with public access videos isn't a problem. More than 200 people do weekly or monthly shows at CCV, she says. That number more than triples when you count the involvement in Northern Kentucky, the Forest Park Waycross studio and the suburbs served by the Intercommunity Cable Regulatory Commission.

        “We have 93 different churches (in Cincinnati) that make a new show every week. It's unbelievable,” Ms. Miller says. @subhed:Video awards @rbody:

        The highlight of the week will be the annual Hometown Video Festival awards Thursday to 165 producers (out of more than 1,600 entries).

        At the Cincinnati Zoo party Friday, conventioneers will see the premiere of 30 Minutes in Cincinnati, a series of 10 three-minute documentaries shot this week on camcorders by some of the visitors.

        Maybe you won't surf past public access channels as you often do. Maybe you'll pause for a few seconds and relish the community service provided by hundreds of Tristate volunteers and students.

        John Kiesewetter is Enquirer TV/radio critic. Write him at 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, 45202.