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People TV's 30-year cable TV run may end | News

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People TV's 30-year cable TV run may end

ATLANTA-- It's low-budget TV -- where the hosts and producers are also stagehands and prop managers.

The studio is a nonprofit facility called People TV, which has run a public access channel on Atlanta cable TV for the last three decades. It has depended on the city of Atlanta and Comcast for funding, and is bracing for a crippling budget cut.

"We have had to give notice to our building and the city that we will not have enough funds to go another year into our contract," said Charlotte Engel, People TV's General Manager and CEO.

People TV has spent half of its history at a low-key studio in Midtown. Its archive is filled with talk shows and musical performances that likely stayed mostly overlooked when they aired. The public access channel has never scientifically measured the size of its audience.

Meantime, the internet has changed the whole concept of public access. Anybody can upload a video to Youtube, and potentially get an audience of millions -- without the need for a studio or any government funding.  Yet Engel argues People TV remains locally relevant.

"I think it does bring something different than just being up on Youtube," said Engel. "If you want to reach your local audience, Youtube's not necessarily the place."

People TV has an aging studio and a paid staff of four -- and even that appears to be unsustainable. A spokeswoman says Mayor Kasim Reed wants to find a way to save People TV, but without added city funding -- a considerable challenge for public access TV in Atlanta.