Public Access Television merges with Public Space One after Medicom ends contract

Public Access Television merged with Public Space One this month to continue providing the opportunity for citizens of Iowa City to bring their talents on air after Medicom ended their contract to broadcast public access content.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Public Space One is seen at the new location on North Gilbert Street on Thursday, October 3, 2019. PS1 previously resided in the bottom floor of the Wesley Student Center.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

Iowa City residents will see a change to the list of TV stations once Public Access Television leaves the air after 40 years. 

The nonprofit public station was previously broadcast on channel 18 by Mediacom. The station was funded by cable subscribers paying to have the channel until Mediacom ended its contract after seeing a decrease in viewership. 

PATV will merge with Public Space One to continue providing a way for community members to present their talents and ideas to the area. Instead of being broadcast, the station will use social media and YouTube to publish its content. 

With the move to an online platform, the viewers will be able to access the videos from anywhere, former PATV executive director Gerardo Sandoval said. Viewers will not need to have cable access to watch the shows anymore, which no longer limits viewership. 

“The channel has always been a community channel, because it was paid for by community money,” Sandoval said. “It was never government money, and it was never city money.” 

The station then started looking at alternative ways to operation and began searching for potential business partners with similar interests and goals, PATV Board of Directors member Greg Crosby said. 

“That took us to the folks at Public Space One, and it just so happened to be a good fit because they wanted to get more into digital technology space, particularly producing video content,” Crosby said. 

RELATED: Public Space One purchases new Iowa City venue

Through the merger, the two entities will create a new executive, new staff, and new procedures for the organization, Crosby said. PATV will become a subsection of Public Space One and the executive director will oversee everything.  

“Our number one objective was to keep the resource, the facility, the technology, and everything in place for the community so that resource didn’t go away,” Crosby said. 

Giving community members access to technology to create video content and providing classes that teach video production is an important part of what PATV does, Crosby said. The merger allows PATV to continue doing so while also expanding on the services offered. 

As of earlier this week, the merger was complete, and PATV will operate as part of Public Space One. Both organizations have been working with lawyers to sign off on the merger and come to an agreement on the terms, Public Space One Executive Director John Engelbrecht said. 

The station’s location on Lafayette Street will remain open and host the new program after the merger, Engelbrecht said. The facility will remain as it is so the resources can be utilized and the organization can determine if there are things that are being underutilized, he added. 

The hope is to get more video artists into the space and add a residency component, he said. 

“One of the challenges was navigating groups of people to recognize what is not an easy decision, and that is to essentially shut down an organization that’s been around for 40 years in hopes that some part of it will live on in another organization,” Engelbrecht said.

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