Austin Music Network Plans Move to Austin Access


The Austin Music Network (AMN) has had a difficult—sometimes troubled—past. At last week's Telecommunications Commission meeting, we heard a proposal to merge AMN into Austin Community Television (ACTV). We approved it unanimously. The proposal now goes on to the Council Committee for Telecommunications Infrastructure for action.

There are two commonly reported complaints with AMN. The first is financial. The channel has been operated largely with city funding, with ongoing efforts to make it self-sustaining. While the organization has made significant improvements in its financial situation over the past year, I think the notion of financial self-sufficiency is a pipe dream. A lot of people begrude city funding going to the project, especially in these difficult times. Pretending the station could ever be completely self-sustaining only throws fuel on that fire.

The other complaint is about content. People sometimes complain about the amount and quality of original programming. At times, particularly during long stretches of the day, the station provides little original programming. Instead, automated loops and music videos run for hours on end. Funding problems are certainly one of the causes of weak prgoramming. I think with regard to program quality, some people may harbor unrealistic expectations. If the channel is going to feature local talent, the material simply won't have the production values of the major national music networks.

Austin Music Partners, the organization that holds the contract to run AMN, wanted out. The future of the network was uncertain. After weeks of acrimonious debate, a compromise was reached: ACTV would reorganize and AMN would merge into it.

ACTV currently programs three channels. The reorganization would brand each of the channels with an identity: education and the arts (eaTV), inspirational programming (Inspirational TV), and broad spectrum public access (Free TV). The AMN content would be hosted on the education and arts channel. I think the channel reorganization is an excellent idea, irrespective of the AMN issue.

With this change, AMN gives up channel 15 (on the local cable systems) and becomes a content provider on ACTV. I think there are some significant benefits, along with some potential concerns.

First, this change should help provide the long desired stability to AMN. That's the primary problem that needed to be fixed, and this would appear to do that.

This does mean a reduction of programming time available, but in practice this may not be too significant. AMN ran a lot of filler material, such as automated runs of music videos, during off-peak hours. That happens mostly during the day, when demand from the AMN viewers was at its lowest. Other programming probably will appear during those times now. For instance, those are peak hours for children's programming, so that's what's likely to appear on the education and arts channel during the day.

I'm also concerned that ACTV works to keep the AMN identify alive. The commission was assured this would happen.

This sounds like a solution that best serves the arts community while resolving the financial difficulties of AMN. That's why I supported it.

This future of channel 15, after AMN has left, is still open. Now that AMN has found a home, that issue is being handled separately. The City is negotiating with AMP on its future.

If you have concerns on the future of AMN or channel 15, the issue will be taken up at the Council Committee for Telecommunications Infrastructure meeting this week.


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re: Austin Music Network Plans Move to Austin Access

Interesting news. I've been a fan of AMN since I arrived here in Austin in 1995, and I'm sad to see it lose it's spot on channel 15, but I'm glad to see a solution that can allow it to continue programming. I'm also a big fan of access as an active crew member of "The Show With No Name", and I'm concerned that it could crowd out some existing programming.

I like the explicit organization of the three channels that's proposed. Channel 11 has been the defacto religious channel for years now, but 10 and 16 haven't had good identities.

I also wonder if this move will help increase funding for ACAC, since it will be adding a new role; they've done a lot of equipment updates in the last few years, but some of the infrastructure is in pretty poor shape (the lighting in the main studio, for example).

re: Austin Music Network Plans Move to Austin Access

ACTV does not want AMN and they resent AMN being forced on them without the promise of lighting up a new channel to support the new content. I was at the ACTV community meeting last tuesday filming for our feature documentary that chronicles the struggle and gradual destruction of much of the Live Music Capital of the World.

THIS IS NOW A FREE SPEECH ISSUE. Ch. 15 was the FIRST Access Channel in America! The first! The Birthplace of Community Free Speech on TV!! Now the city wants to kill that part of the charter so content can be censored by politicians!

Time Warner had to provide the ch. by City Charter 31 years ago and now they have already made statements that show that they intend to allow constraints to ALL THE ACTV CHANNELS with regards to FREE SPEECH! This is now the most important issue here, not the music!

Our government does not want you to have access on any channel that allows free speech so they can control the distribution of filtered news and info to Americans and they are staring this trend with the first access channel in the U.S.

Like the gradual death of the Live Music Capital, so goes our rights in the ironic name of patriotism.

They do it gradually so no one feels the full impact until it is way too late! The destruction of AMN has been caused by the City Council, not the people who ran the station! I know, because I have interviewed many of them for the movie Austin Groove Vol. 2, Strange Days, to be released Oct.1

re: Austin Music Network Plans Move to Austin Access

We sure miss the days when Ms. Shelia Cosper produced and directed the "Good Morning Show." Does anybody remember those good ole'days??