Akaku’s long battle for security and survival against public and private forces determined to bring down public access in Hawaii may finally be over. (Read MauiTime’s 2008 cover story here.)
Here’s a release from the station announcing the signing of HB112, which “exempts Akakū and Hawaiiʻs other public access stations from a bidding process that could have enabled outside operators to run Hawaiiʻs community television stations.”
Congrats, and may unfiltered free speech reign.
Kahului, HI, May 3 - A five year juggernaut made up of special interests and state bureaucrats to put an end to local control of community television in Hawaii has been stopped cold by a stroke of the Governorʻs pen. This is a huge victory for free speech and for the people of Hawai’i who will now have a chance to fully participate in their local electronic democracy. On Wednesday, April 27, 2011 Governor Neil Abercrombie signed House Bill 112 into law. The bill exempts Akakū and Hawai’iʻs other public access stations from a bidding process that could have enabled outside operators to run Hawai’iʻs community television stations.
“I donʻt want the good work that a lot of people have done to be jumped on and taken by somebody else for purposes which may suit them but donʻt suit what we had the public access channel idea about in the first place,” said Abercrombie during Wednesdayʻs signing ceremony. “The next thing I want to work on…is making sure that we have the proper funding, all the way through; to see to it that weʻre able to follow up on what this bill will enable public television to do.”
Aside from providing stability to PEG stations across the state, the bill will also allow residents to have input in how Akakū will serve Maui Nui in the years to come. “Itʻs been a long time coming,” said Jay April, Executive Director of Akakū on Maui. “Akakū and the other public access stations in the state will now be granted a strong foundation to move forward and do the innovation that we do.”
Spearheaded by Maui Representative, Angus McKelvey and Gil Keith-Agaran, HB 112 was the House version of a companion bill, SB583, introduced by Maui Sens. Roz Baker, J. Kalani English and Senate President, Shan Tsutsui. This bill allows the Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to designate an access organization to oversee public, educational, and governmental channels on cable television. It keeps the “community” in community television by keeping these organizations accountable to the local publics they serve on each island.
“The reason this bill passed this year,” said Akakū CEO, Jay April, “is because the people of Maui spoke and the Governor and our Maui Nui legislatorʻs listened. Everyone from Roz Baker, Kalani English and Shan Tsutsui in the Senate, to Angus McKelvey, Gil Keith-Agaran, Kyle Yamashita, Mele Carroll, Joe Souki and George Fontaine in the House fought for us to get it done. We owe them a debt of gratitude for sticking up for us,” he said.
In attendance at Wednesdayʻs signing were co-presenters of the bill, West Maui Rep. Angus McKelvey and Kahului Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran along with Sen. Roz Baker, “who was a real champion for the people on this bill,” according to April. Roy Amemiya, CEO of ‘Olelo in ‘Oahu and J. Robertson, Executive Director of Ho’ike on Kaua’i were also among the throng of happy onlookers. For more information call us at (808) 871-5554 or visit our website atwww.akaku.org.