By Harry Keaney
Manhattan Neighborhood Network needs support from its Irish viewers.
With a new franchise deal about to be negotiated with cable giant TimeWarner, MNN, a public access network, fears it may lose one of its four channels.
MNN airs on channels 16, 34, 56 and 57. Its Irish programs include “Irish Express,” a variety show that is broadcast on Channel 34 on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.; “An S_il na Gael,” which airs on Channel 34 on Mondays at 3 p.m., and “American Celtic TV,” a program dedicated to ancient and modern Celtic culture, which airs on Channel 34 on Tuesdays at 2 p.m.
According to a press release from MNN, the station has, since 1990, served Manhattan dwellers from Washington Heights to Wall Street without the need to kowtow to advertisers.
“Big cable makes big money from its channel capacity,” asserts MNN’s statement. “So, naturally, the cable companies would love to take the public access channel back.”
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Anthony Riddle, MNN’s executive director, said that, for example, in 10 years, one cable company may have 500 channels but the public might only have four.
“What we want here is to maintain a proportionate status quo, meaning the amount of public resources as a percentage of the system should stay the same,” Riddle told the Echo.
In 1990, New York City and TimeWarner came to an agreement that gave MNN four channels for public access broadcasting for eight years.
“In New York’s high-priced market, renewing MNN’s franchise is key to ensuring that all of Manhattan’s community organizations can get their message out, even those without the big bucks to buy time,” said MNN, which is America’s largest public access station, with more than 3,500 people creating 150,000 non-commercial programs transmitted 20 hours a day, 365 days a year.
MNN points out that its annual budget, $1.8 million, would not pay the cast of “Seinfeld” for one episode. TimeWarner pays MNN $3.14 for each of its subscribers per year.
Riddle said those wishing to support MNN should contact the mayor’s office, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) at 11 Metro Tech Center, the borough president’s office and the comptroller’s office.
For information, call Hildy Karp at (212) 245-0510, or call MNN at (212) 757-2670.