ABOUT WISCONSIN MEDIA CENTERS
Number of access channels. There are more than 200 access television channels on cable television systems in Wisconsin. That makes it very likely your community has a channel. If you haven't heard about it, it could be underutilized. Try contacting your city hall or school district to find out more. You can use our search tool, Find Your Media Center, to find a station near you. If contact information is not provided for a station listed, they are not a member of WCM.
Use of the web. Many of our community media centers are actively using the web to distribute programming either with video-on-demand or streaming. You may find these stations through our search feature.
Number of WCM Members. Wisconsin Community Media represents 51 media access centers that manage over 70 access channels. Many of our member stations manage more than one type of access.
Affect of 2007 Act 42 on community media. Dedicated funding for community media was eliminated by state franchise legislation in 2007. Until then, cities could negotiate with cable companies for a small per subscriber fee (sometimes as low as 10 cents, most frequently about 35 cents and in rare cases over $1.) to help fund the local media center. Over 30 media access centers directly lost funding due to the law. Very small stations and independent non-profit public access stations were hit the hardest. West Allis Community Media Center closed in 2012 and WYOU in Madison nearly closed, only to be rescued by the Madison Public Library. Chippewa Valley Community Television lost over half of its funding and cut back its public access component significantly. Wausau Area Access Channels closed its doors for awhile and reopened with a very small budget. Today, nearly all of our community media centers operate on smaller budgets and several have closed due to this state law. Neighboring states, such as Minnesota and Illinois still enjoy local franchising. Their state legislatures did not eliminate it. WCM supports the CAP Act that will empower local governments to reinstate small subscriber fees for the support of community media.
Finding a community media center nearby. If you would like to submit a program or community message to your local channel, get training to produce a program, or find out if you can get help to cover an event or produce a show, see Your Video Production. This area of the site will help you find out what kind of services your community media center offers. To find out where the closest media access center is to you, use the Find Your Media Center search in the right-hand navigation of the homepage.
What channel is my station on? Every cable system features the local channels in different locations. Currently, if you have cable television and if your community operates a channel, you will be able to see it on the line-up. If you have digital cable, the electronic guide lists the channels, but except for only a few community channels, the guide does not list the programming on the access channel nor will your DVR record the programming. This makes it harder to connect viewers with programming. Many of our stations list their program schedule on their website.
On Charter Cable, find your community channels in the 980s and 990s. You should be able to receive about a dozen community channels from your region of Wisconsin.
On Time Warner Cable look for local community programming on 14 and 96.
On Comcast look for local community programming on channels 6 and 16.
On Solarus look for local community programming on channel 3.
On AT&T U-Verse it takes some time to get to the local channels. First, go to channel 99. Once there, look for a menu option that allows you to select community programming. Once in the community programming area, select a city. Then a menu will come up listing the local stations available in the city. Select the station you want to watch. The program should load after about 15 - 30 seconds. When you want to stop watching the program, you need to back out from the program through the menu process. This takes about 20 seconds.
AT&T's cumbersome way of carrying community television is being challenged at the FCC by community television advocates on several grounds.