This was the editorial written by Columbia Daily Tribune Editor, HJWIII, and featured in the Thursday August 29, 2013 edition. The letter is immediately below and the link to the Tribune entry is at the bottom of this post.
In his budget for next year, Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes proposes to cut funding for Columbia Access Television, a savings of $200,000. The city has been providing this amount each year in a five-year contract expiring Sept. 30.
As the day of reckoning nears, a swell of support arises for continued funding. Members of the city council seem sympathetic. Matthes cites budget challenges but is open-minded. Where does CAT rank among city spending priorities?
The community access station is one of those unnecessary but important public projects that make Columbia what it is. Measured by the metrics of commercial television, CAT would go out of business, but that fact is the very case for continued city subsidies. If CAT could command an audience supporting commercial sponsorship, it would not consider using its resources and talent as it does. Like public radio and television but even more so, CAT must survive without the kind of empirical reckoning underwriting other media.