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Everything in the United States is being turned into a cash cow: education, schools, and previously serious magazines. Time and Newsweek used to be excellent sources of international news, but no more; I have dropped my subscriptions to them. This reflects the indifference of the American public to serious discussions, especially about international matters.
Cable companies have in general performed a good service in providing serious programs. However, they are now threatened by ATT/TCI, which is gobbling them up. WAIS TV producer Bill Van Orsdol is one of a group concerned by this development. Palo Alto Cable Coop has run up a large debt, due in large measure to the lamentable failure of the company, Palo Alto and Stanford to reach an agreement.
My personal concern is primarily about SCOLA, Mid-Peninsula Access Company (MPAC), and C-Span. SCOLA is performing an invaluable service in bringing foreign newscasts to us. I watch them for two hours a day, getting information otherwise inaccessible. Language courses should be built around SCOLA programs, which immerse students not only in the language but in the whole culture. MPAC broadcasts our TV programs, and ATT/TCI plans to move MPAC to a little used high channel. C-Span is the redemption of American TV. Without it, our TV would be almost a complete wasteland.
Local WAISers should support Bill Van Orsdol and his group. The city should at least demand guarantees that the programs mentioned will not be affected. WAISers living elsewhere should keep a close eye on their local situation.
Ronald Hilton - 11/7/99