Our Opinion: Council urged to end inertia regarding JCTV

Kicking the can down the road has become an epidemic among governments.

The U.S. Congress is the master of procrastination, but the Jefferson City Council also is embracing inertia.

Consider the city’s public access television channel, JCTV, mired in stagnation since its inception in the late 1980s.

Council members voted 7-3 on Tuesday to continue funding for JCTV up to its current $165,000. The vote — still subject to change — followed comments from six proponents of the station.

Our purpose here is not to condemn JCTV or call for the elimination of its funding.

Our purpose is to urge the council to do something — offer a vision for JCTV and a strategy to attain it, or pull the plug.

JCTV became a reality after the council, in 1988, approved a one-year, $50,000 contract with Lincoln University to operate the station.

The vision for the station was bold and designed to train LU students, engage community members in creating programming, attract viewers, and encourage private sponsorship and contributions.

Programming would be engaging, inventive and informative, ranging from coverage of local government to innovative local productions.

Sadly, that vision failed to materialize.

When an effort was made in 2006 to revive that vision, we wrote in this forum: “JCTV’s potential never has been realized (but) it deserves at least a fighting chance to become a robust medium in our community.”

That was more than five years ago.

Appearing before the council Tuesday, the station manager pleaded for “time to figure out alternative funding streams.”

We must ask, what specific alternative funding is available now that hasn’t been available, or pursued, for more than two decades?

City Council members can continue JCTV funding “as usual” for another year, or two, or 20.

Or they can take action. If JCTV is a potential resource, adopt a strategy to actualize that potential. If not, stop the lazy budgeting practice of continuing to do what’s been done in the past.

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