June is designated Austin Public Access Television Month in honor of 50 years of giving the community a platform to air original, free speech, non-commercial programs ranging from serious to silly. Austin Public Access Television Channel 10 is the longest continually operating public access channel in the United States.
Community television was born in Austin when the first live cablecast was broadcast on Mt. Larson in early June 1973. It got its start when several University of Texas Radio-TV-Film students carrying their video production equipment on their shoulders joined up with community activists and Texas Commission on the Arts members. A video clip takes a quick look back at some of the shows and personalities airing on Austin Public over the years.
“The City and residents embraced Austin Public Access television from the very beginning,” said Rondella Hawkins, the City of Austin’s Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs Officer. “When community television, now Austin Public launched, it was the only free-speech outlet available for residents that provided a voice for traditionally underrepresented groups and perspectives unavailable within mainstream media. The City of Austin has continued its commitment to preserve and support the access tv channels to distribute the content created by the local community at the studio facility using the state-of-the-art video production equipment. Leveraging these resources, through our partnership with Austin Public, provides the training and the pathways for promising careers in the creative industry.”
Austin Film Society
The local Austin community is invited to celebrate 50 years of public access at a free open house event. The public is invited to stop by Austin Public, the City of Austin’s current Public Access Television Studio, at 1143 Northwestern Avenue anytime between noon and 4 p.m. to explore the space, take an interactive tour of the facilities and enjoy complimentary refreshments provided by the Austin Film Society. While the event is free to attend, registration is recommended.
The Austin Film Society has operated Austin Public on behalf of the City since 2015. Austin Public cablecasts channels 10, 11 and 16 through three local cable providers while also simultaneously providing video-on-demand and streaming content online. Channel 10 is currently the longest-running public access television station in the country. Today, the Austin Film Society’s role in operating Austin Public includes a major focus on connecting the public with skills and training for media production related jobs as well as access to production equipment, state-of-the-art production facilities and content distribution services.
Austin Public is also the home of Creative Careers, a workforce development program that provides hands-on training and mentorship to emerging creatives in Texas, especially those who may have been traditionally overlooked by the media industry. This paid internship and training program provides a foot in the door into the film, television and media production industries in Austin.
Rebecca Campbell, Austin Film Society CEO, said, “The history of Public Access in Austin is intrinsically tied to the growth and success of the City’s creative sector, and public access remains vital to the culturally focused expressions of a diverse city.” Campbell continued, “Throughout its existence, Austin Public Access Television has given industry outsiders the tools and training they need to make their voices heard. We are able to continue that legacy of community support by serving nonprofit organizations and anyone in the community who needs training on media tools. Creative Careers, our unique workforce development program, is connecting new generations with these same resources as well as mentorship, job shadowing and networking opportunities.”
Since it was established, Austin Public has given members of the community the resources they've needed to share local perspectives on community-specific issues. It has also attracted those interested in learning more about media production, notably Texas-based film directors Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, founder of the Austin Film Society) and Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Sin City), both of whom used Austin Public Access resources to edit their first films.
About Austin Public
Committed to freedom of speech and expression, Austin Public is a non-exclusive and content-neutral media studio that offers low- and no-cost training, equipment, facilities, and content distribution services to all Austinites. Its programs empower individuals and nonprofit organizations to create film and media projects that speak to the local community, facilitate community building, and diversify the media landscape. Austin Public provides video-on-demand and over the top distribution services and operates cable channels 10, 11, and 16 (cable channel 10 being the longest continually running public access station in the country) and simultaneously streams the channels. Austin Public is also home to Creative Careers, a unique workforce development program that provides hands-on training, mentorship, and professional development opportunities to emerging creatives who may have been overlooked by the industry in the past, helping them find industry jobs and career paths in the field of media production.
About Austin Film Society
Founded in 1985 by filmmaker Richard Linklater, AFS creates life-changing opportunities for filmmakers, catalyzes Austin and Texas as a creative hub, and brings the community together around great film. AFS is committed to racial equity and inclusion, with an objective to deliver programs that actively dismantle the structural racism, sexism and other bias in the screen industries. AFS supports filmmakers from all backgrounds towards career leaps, encouraging exceptional artistic projects with grants and support services. AFS operates Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility, to attract and grow the creative media ecosystem. Austin Public, a space for our city’s diverse mediamakers to train and collaborate, provides many points of access to filmmaking and film careers. The AFS Cinema is an ambitiously programmed repertory and first run arthouse with broad community engagement. By hosting premieres, local and international industry events, and the Texas Film Awards, AFS shines the national spotlight on Texas filmmakers while connecting Austin and Texas to the wider film community. AFS is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.