Access Tucson to close doors for 4 weeks
Staff furloughed, classes & production canceled, broadcast to continue
Access Tucson will shut its doors for four weeks following a 60 percent cut in city funding.
The Access Tucson building, 124 E. Broadway, will be closed from Feb. 10 to March 9.
Staff will be furloughed and production and training classes will be cancelled during the closure.
The group's three public access channels will broadcast prerecorded content during the shutdown, says training manager Lisa Horner.
The station produces more than 200 hours of local original programming every month, says Horner. "That's more than all other local TV stations combined," she said.
Access Tucson offers training and production assistance to those who wish to create their own TV shows. The agency has operated the city and county's public access channels since 1984.
The agency's board of directors voted to close while the public access station continues talks with the city on proposals to combine operations with the city-run channel Tucson 12 and possibly move Access Tucson to the government channel's rented offices in the Pioneer Building.
Access Tucson staff have suggested that the city channel co-locate their operations to the city-owned building that the public access programmer now occupies.
Tucson 12 programming includes coverage of City Council meetings, and other shows produced by the city, including music program Studio C and Spanish language show Conexion 12.
The council is slated to take action Feb. 23 on a forthcoming plan by the city manager to maintain support for public access.
Outside agencies cut
The City Council cut funding to outside agencies earlier this month by 60 percent.
The cut leaves Access Tucson - which receives nearly all of its funding from the city - with only 40 percent of its 2009-2010 budget for the entire fiscal year. Since most of that budget year is past, most of that money has already been spent, says Horner. And the city will not provide any more money.
Horner says the group estimates that even with the savings from the closure, there is not enough funding to maintain the current level of operations until the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
Horner said the group holds out hope that an agreement to sustain operations can be reached. "We're operating on good faith that the city has the best intentions," she said.
"I don't think the city can maintain its voice (Channel 12) and not have a place for public to be engaged and responsive," she said.
Disclosure: Access Tucson acts as a fiscal sponsor for TucsonSentinel.com. However, there is no connection between Access Tucson’s budget and that of TucsonSentinel.com.