Cincinnati loses a major outlet for community voices with closing of Media Bridges
2 Comments · Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Rufus Johnson remains optimistic he can
maintain his roles as a television producer and community activist in
Cincinnati, despite Media Bridges closing later this year as a result of
city and state funding cuts.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:18 AM | Permalink
Public access media organization to close by end of year
Local public access media organization Media Bridges is shutting its doors for good by the end of the year, ending nearly 25 years of public service.
The organization’s demise is a result of the city eliminating funding for Media Bridges in its latest budget, which was passed by City Council in May.
“It is with great sadness that I must announce that Media Bridges will close its doors by the end of 2013. The city has made it extremely clear that we will not be receiving any more funding from them. While we have tried many other avenues for revenue it has become clear that we will be unable to sustain operations beyond 2013,” Media
Bridges Executive Director Tom Bishop announced Tuesday in the organization’s newsletter.The shutdown will be a steady process, with Media Bridges completely closing once its channels are
transferred or Dec. 13 — whichever comes first.The city’s budget cuts were originally considered in December, but City
Council managed to restore some funding to keep the organization
afloat. Prior to the partial restoration, Bishop had called the cuts a “meteor” to his organization’s budget.
City officials previously defended the cuts to Media Bridges, citing city
surveys that ranked the program poorly in terms of budgetary importance.
For the surveys, the city used meetings and mailed questionnaires to gauge public
But Bishop claims the surveys’
demographics were lopsided against low-income Cincinnatians, the income
group that benefits the most from public access programs like Media
For both the meeting-based and mail-in surveys, Bishop’s
claim checks out. His concern is even directly acknowledged and backed in the documented survey results for the meetings:
“Twenty-two percent of meeting participants earned less than $23,050
per year, compared to 40.8 percent of the population at large who earn
less than $24,999 per year. While this is not representative of the
population at large, the data does indicate strong participation from
low income residents.”
Meanwhile, wealthier Cincinnatians were much better
represented, with 11 percent of meeting participants making
$150,000 or more per year despite only 6 percent of the city at large
belonging to that income group, according to the survey results.
The same issue can be found in the mail-in survey: Only 22 percent of respondents made less than $25,000, while 10 percent made $150,000 or more.“It’s ridiculous that they would call that representative of the city of Cincinnati,” Bishop says.
Instead of using its skewed survey results,
Bishop argues the city should have looked at the 2010 Spring Greater
Cincinnati Survey from the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for
Policy Research. In that survey, Cincinnati respondents were asked how
important it was to provide recording equipment to citizens and
neighborhoods so they can “produce educational and public access
programs for cable television.” About 54.3 percent called it “very
important,” 33.9 percent labeled it “somewhat important” and 11.7
percent said it was “not too important.”
City officials also defended the cuts by claiming that funding was only provided as a
“one-year reprieve” after Media Bridges lost state funding that came
through Time Warner Cable, which successfully lobbied to end its
required contributions in 2011.
Bishop disputes the city’s claim, saying Media Bridges and its staff weren’t informed that the city funding was meant to be temporary — at least until it was too late.
Media Bridges is a public access media organization founded in 1988 that
allows anyone in Cincinnati to record video and sound for publicly
broadcasted television and radio. It also provides educational programs for people new to the process.
Although Media Bridges is closing down, the city is still
funding CitiCable, which, among other programming, broadcasts City
Council and county commissioner meetings, through franchise fees from
Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner.
by German Lopez
Streetcar project misrepresented, gun control battle continues, Media Bridges closing down
Ever since the Cincinnati streetcar has been envisioned,
the mass transit project has been mired in misrepresentations driven
largely by opponents and politicians. CityBeat has a breakdown of the misrepresentations here, showing some of the silliest and biggest falsehoods claimed by opponents and supporters.
The national battle over gun control came to Cincinnati on July 4 when former Rep. Gabby Giffords stopped at the Northside parade to call for new restrictions on firearms.
Giffords is part of a slew of national leaders calling for stronger
regulations and enforcement for background checks — a policy more than nine in 10 Americans support. Still, the call seems to be politically unheard so far: Federal legislation is stalled in Congress, and Ohio legislators are working to loosen gun restrictions.
Facing city budget cuts, public access media organization Media Bridges is shutting down by the end of the year.
The city picked up Media Bridges’ funding after the organization lost
state funding that had been provided through an agreement with Time
Warner Cable. But city officials claim the local funding was supposed to
act as a one-year reprieve and nothing more — a claim Media Bridges was
apparently never made aware of until it was too late. To justify the
cut, the city cites public
surveys that ranked budget programs in terms of importance, but a look
at the citizen surveys shows the demographics were skewed against
low-income people who make the most use out of programs like Media
Check out CityBeat’s editorial content for this week’s issue:• German Lopez: “Meet Daniela,” the hypothetical victim of Republican policies at the state and national level.• Ben Kaufman: “‘Enquirer’ Takes Questionable Approach to Covering Meyers Ordination,” which analyzes the questionable apathy to a supposedly “illegal” ordination of a woman Catholic priest.• Kathy Wilson: “Until It’s Time for You to Go,”
a look at the life story of South African leader Nelson Mandela and the
hurdles he faced as he helped end discriminatory apartheid policies.
If you’re headed to Fountain Square today, expect to see
some images of bloodied fetuses and fetal limbs. An anti-abortion group
is showing a video with the gruesome visuals
as part of a protest against what it sees as “the greatest human rights
injustice of our time.” The group defends its tactics by citing its
First Amendment rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has so far refused to
rule one way or the other on the issue, but, barring some restrictions
for airwave broadcasts, the court typically protects all kinds of
political speech as long as it’s not pornographic.
The Cincinnati Police Department is changing how it responds to calls
to focus on what it sees as the most important issues, such as impacting violent crime,
youth intervention efforts, long-term problem solving projects, traffic
safety and neighborhood quality-of-life issues. The biggest change will come with how the department reacts to minor traffic accidents: It will still
respond, but it may not file a report.
The so-far-unnamed Greater Cincinnati coalition working to reduce the local infant mortality rate set a goal
yesterday: zero. It’s a dramatic vision for a region that, at 13.6, has
an infant mortality rate more than twice the national average of six,
as CityBeat covered here.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced in a statement
yesterday that he will be gathering local leaders and health officials
to encourage the state to expand Medicaid. The expansion, which CityBeat covered in further detail here,
would save Ohio money and insure half a million Ohioans in the
next decade, according to an analysis by the Health Policy Institute of
Fish oils may increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study.
A measure that would disallow employers from discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals made it through a U.S. Senate committee yesterday.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise could have the features to making self-driving cars viable.
A device trains blind people to see by listening.
by Jac Kern
Posted In: Events
at 11:30 AM | Permalink
It was 79 years
ago this past Wednesday that Prohibition was repealed in the United States.
After more than a dry decade of bootlegging, gangsters and booze-related crime,
people could finally go to a bar and enjoy a cocktail legally. Can you imagine
the parties that were thrown the night Prohibition ended? Tonight, Japp's
recreates that celebration with the second annual Get Wet Repeal Day Party Friday.
Get dolled up and
party like it’s 1933 with performances by Rose Room and Cin City Burlesque and
a DJ Havination dance party. Hot bites will be cooking up all night long; use
the speakeasy password “George Remus”
for cocktail specials featuring Canadian
Club. It’ll be just like a scene in Boardwalk
Empire — minus all that murder and stuff.
Want to get
involved in local television and radio? Media Bridges hosts a holiday open
house at their Central Parkway facility from 6-9 p.m. Friday. Learn
about Media Bridges, WVQC and how to create your own media for TV and radio. Go
here for more information.
If your office
holiday party is a drag, skip that shit and head to Newport for Powerhouse
annual shin dig Friday. Enjoy drinks, music and great deals on Powerhouse’s
rockin’ posters — perfect gifts for the music lovers on your shopping list. The
first 50 partiers to arrive will get a freebie holiday print.
Second Saturday time, and this
month features NVISION’s newly expanded space with the opening reception for
artist Nancy Gamon; craft beer tasting contest at Mayday; Chicken Lays an Egg
three-year anniversary; Hopnosis small batch specialty beer bash at The Comet
and much more.
Did reading this
month’s drink column make you want to learn
more about the art of brewing and cupping coffee? Rob Hoos of Nossa Coffee,
Adam Shaw of Deeper Roots Coffee, Alex Stahler of Tazza Mia host a “Coffee
Nerdom” class this Sunday at 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab in OTR. Learn about
specialty coffee, the cupping process and single-brewing methods — and get your
caffeine buzz on. Go here
See our To Do picks
for more suggested happenings this weekend and check out our calendar
for a full lineup of arts, theater, classes and other events.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
In his 2013 budget proposal, City Manager
Milton Dohoney suggested eliminating $300,000 in support to Media
Bridges, an organization that provides public access TV and radio
stations in Cincinnati.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Budget
at 03:45 PM | Permalink
Massive cuts endanger local public access media
Mitt Romney was criticized for wanting to “kill Big Bird”
due to his proposed cuts to publicly funded media, and now City Manager
Milton Dohoney Jr. could face similar criticism. In his 2013 budget proposal,
Dohoney suggested eliminating $300,000 in support to Media Bridges, an
organization that provides public access TV and radio stations in
executive director of Media Bridges, called the cuts a “meteor” to
his organization’s budget. He described dire circumstances in which Ohio
originally cut funding to Media Bridges in June 2011, leaving the organization with
$198,000 from remaining money in the state fund and $300,000 from Cincinnati’s general fund. The state fund was provided by Time
Warner Cable, and lobbying from the cable company is what eventually led
to the fund’s elimination. The end of the Time Warner fund cut Media
Bridges’ budget by one-third, forcing the organization to change
facilities to make ends meet with less space.
With the city manager proposing to cut the city’s $300,000 in funding, Media
Bridges is essentially losing $498,000 in 2013. Bishop says that’s about
85 percent of the organization’s budget — a financial gap that would be
practically impossible to overcome. “If it’s a complete cut, we’re
looking at liquidation,” says Bishop.
When it was notified of the changes a few months ago, Media Bridges gave an
alternative plan to the mayor’s office that keeps $300,000 in funding
every year after a six-month transition period. But even that plan isn’t
ideal, according to Bishop. It would force Media Bridges to cut four
staff members, become more dependent on automation and charge
$200 a year for memberships with a sliding scale for low-income members.
Media Bridges will be reaching out to the public, mayor and
council members in the coming weeks to draw support in fighting the cuts.
At the government meetings, Bishop will make the plea
that public access outlets are important for low-income families. He
says it’s true that the Internet and cable television have expanded media
options for the public, but, according to the 2010 Greater Cincinnati
Survey, more than 40 percent of people in Cincinnati don’t have access
to broadband. That’s a large amount of the population that will be left
without a way to easily speak out in media if Media Bridges funding is
In a world of saturated media, Bishop rhetorically asked
why four TV channels that do a public service would need to be targeted:
“Does it seem so ridiculous that the people should have a tiny bit of
that bandwidth so that they can communicate with the community, share
cultural events, share what’s going on in the community and participate
He added the organization also provides educational access, which allows institutions like the University of Cincinnati,
Cincinnati Public Schools and various private schools to reach out to
Media Bridges also sees the cuts as a bit unfair relative
to other budget items. Bishop acknowledges “fiscal times are hard,” but
he pointed out CitiCable, which broadcasts City Council meetings and other educational services, is getting more than $750,000 in the proposed budget
to run one TV channel, while Media Bridges isn't getting $300,000 to run
four TV channels and a radio station. He praised CitiCable — “Those guys do a great job over
there; they provide a great service” — but he also says the disproportionate
cuts are “just not right.”
The cuts to Media Bridges are some of many adjustments in
the budget proposal by Dohoney. To balance Cincinnati’s estimated $34 million
deficit, Dohoney suggested pursuing privatizing parking services and
other cuts, including the elimination of the Cincinnati Police
Department’s mounted patrol unit and a $610,770 reduction to human services
funding.Update (Nov. 30, 3:45 p.m.): Meg Olberding, spokesperson for the city manager's office, called back CityBeat after this story was published. She explained Media Bridges was a target for cuts for two reasons: The program was ranked low in importance in public feedback gathered during the priority-driven budget process, and Media Bridges isn't seen as a core city service.Olberding also said that while some funding does flow through the city to CitiCable, that money has always come from franchise fees from Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner. In the case of Media Bridges, the city was not funding the program until it picked up the tab in 2011. Until that point, Media Bridges was funded through the now-gone Time Warner fund. Only after funding was lost did the city government provide a “one-year reprieve” in the general fund to keep Media Bridges afloat, according to Olberding.
by Mike Breen
Hip Hop youth arts center celebrates 7 years and announces plans to relocate
One of, if not the, coolest youth outreach programs in the region is the "Hip Hop Youth Arts Center" Elementz on Central Parkway, which gives local kids a consistent outlet to explore their creativity and learn about the arts. The center is now 7 years old and tonight at 6 p.m. the founders are hosting an anniversary party featuring performances by several artists affiliated with Elementz. Admission is just $3.The people behind the non-profit center recently began sending out video press releases to keep everyone in the loop on their happenings. Below is a clip about this evening's birthday celebration, followed by Elementz's winter video newsletter, which includes footage from various performances and workshops from the past few months, as well as an interview about politics with local DJ Hi Tek.There's also a special, surprise announcement about Elementz at the end of the winter newsletter clip. The center is preparing to move to the old Media Bridges headquarters on Race St. (across from SCPA) now that Media Bridges is relocating to the WCET building around the corner. (The new Media Bridges is slated to be reopened in its new space on May 3.) For more on Elementz, visit its website here.
0 Comments · Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Obama administration last week gave a total of $90
million to the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) and
Uptown Consortium to fund urban growth projects. CINCINNATI +1
Latest casualties of WAIF turmoil
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Ideologically speaking, the local radio programs 'Every Woman' and 'Alternating Currents' are cornerstones of independent media. The movements they give voice to (women's music and LGBT news and issues, respectively) were foundational to WAIF-FM, which both shows have called home for more than 30 years. Last month both jumped ship to Media Bridges' emerging low-power FM station, WVQC.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Community media center Media Bridges is turning 20 years old and this Saturday it's time to celebrate its past and support its future. "Free Wave Riot: Celebrating 20 Years of Local Music, Local Voices, Local Media" is a benefit concert at Know Theatre to help get its new FM radio station off the ground this fall.