More than 3,000 PEG channels in the United States are connecting people with their local governments and informing citizens about the important issues they must face every day. Community television fulfills a vital need at a time when we are losing local newspapers at an alarming rate.
Oceanside Community Television was started in the early 1980’s by Bob Bowditch and a group of volunteers in cooperation with city staff members whose initial goal was to videotape and air City Council meetings. In the same cooperative spirit, the City of Oceanside and KOCT worked together during franchise negotiations in early 2002, resulting in one of the best franchises ever negotiated in San Diego County. The City of Oceanside received $4.1 million dollars and created an Institutional Network which connects our fire, police, city buildings and KOCT in the event of emergencies. This funding also allowed KOCT to replace worn out equipment, purchase new digital cameras and editing gear, and upgrade our Industry Street studio facility to better serve our community. Since our birth in 1984, KOCT has produced thousands of programs about our Oceanside community. It is no exaggeration to say that NONE of these community-focused programs would have been produced if the public had to rely on commercial television or the good graces of the cable company.
Oceanside elected officials have said that because of the present dire economy, they will not be able to support KOCT with general fund monies this year. Once again, the City, KOCT and its volunteer Board of Directors are working cooperatively on a funding solution that will not impinge on the City’s lean general fund dollars. This solution will allow KOCT to continue to provide programs for, by and about our unique community. It won’t be easy and there will be hardships. But working together I believe we can maintain the city’s multi-million dollar investment in KOCT and survive this perfect storm.