Please support BIG and our sister media centers by calling the following numbers and representatives TODAY, April 14th and tomorrow, April 15th to assure that they hear our from us!
Please contact our State Representatives ASAP!
Calling them is the best way to ADVOCATE for BIG and Community Media TODAY!
You can also contact the chair and members of the Ways & Means committee
Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair (617) 722-2990 @repMichlewitz
Contact Info for Committee Members
Phone script (email and tweet at your reps in addition to calling!)
I’m calling today because I wanted to make you aware that Representative Tommy Vitolo has introduced a line item in the state budget called the Civic Media Coverage Grant Program, amendment #841, titled Civic Media Coverage, in bill H.4700. Which if approved, would provide supplemental funding for community media outlets who regularly produce a minimum of 52 hours of local news programs and civic coverage annually.
(ask your state rep to co-sign) I’m really hopeful that you’ll reach out to Rep Vitolo’s office and cosign on the line item.
I’m not sure if you know this, but subscriptions to cable TV services have decreased more than 20% statewide over the last five years – and because franchise fees from cable TV subscriptions make up more than 90% of our budget and our income has been decreasing at a pretty rapid rate every year.
Most community media stations in Massachusetts have been taking on coverage of more and more government meetings since the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re doing it with diminishing income.
In Brookline, Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) is a community media center that serves Brookline residents and town government by providing critical remote, hybrid and in-person government coverage of over 500 meetings annually including eleven nights of Town Meeting, elections forums, voter information guides, support for civic engagement and public affairs programming and is a key community hub in amplifying local voices.
Our media center tripled our local coverage and provided emergency public information during the Covid-19 pandemic and helped provide technical assistance to our town/city and residents to stream local content and facilitate increased decision-making and civic engagement.
Other states have stepped up to help out community media and since Massachusetts has the highest concentration of media centers in the country, we hope our legislators will do the same. While this initiative doesn’t solve our long-term funding problem, we look at this as a way to help fund our efforts for now and keep the civic media and information flowing to Massachusetts residents.
Letter or Email Script:
Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair
House Committee on Ways and Means
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Representative Michlewitz:
The institution of Community Media or Public Access television has served the communities of Massachusetts with municipal meeting coverage, coverage of local news and events, and access to expert training and equipment for over four decades.
Massachusetts boasts the highest concentration of community media centers in the country and residents of the Commonwealth have come to rely on these outlets for vital civic information.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of community media became even more important as local governments were in desperate need of a way to continue their operations while keeping the public engaged.
Community media outlets were there, solving communication issues and providing thousands of hours of meetings, emergency updates, technical support, and entertainment.
But community media faces an untenable equation. While the demand for services has increased, even before the pandemic, funding for community media has continually decreased. Most community media outlets, whether non-profit or governmentally operated, depend on cable franchise fees for anywhere from 80 to 95 percent of their annual budgets. Many Massachusetts residents are opting to cancel their cable subscriptions in favor of more modern streaming video platforms which are not regulated in the same way as cable. Between 2015 and 2020, cable subscriptions in Massachusetts have declined more than 20 percent, meaning drastic cuts to personnel and services for community media outlets.
Representative Tommy Vitolo has introduced a line item in the state budget called the Civic Media Coverage Grant Program, which if approved, would provide supplemental funding for community media outlets who regularly produce a minimum of 52 hours of local news programs and civic coverage annually.
For Social Media