Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

March 7, 2013

Former RSU-TV director speaks of importance of public television



“Through special programming dedicated to adult literacy, OETA helps foster a stronger, better educated and better informed Oklahoma workforce,” he said. “Furthermore, we produce and air more original Oklahoma-centric programs than any television network or station every single week, among these, ‘The People’s Business’, ‘Oklahoma Forum’, ‘Outdoor Oklahoma’, ‘Stateline’, ‘Movie Club’, ‘Writing Out Loud’ and more.”
But how did OETA come about in the first place?
“In 1951, the Oklahoma Legislature petitioned the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to reserve television channels for non-commercial educational purposes — the only legislative body in the United States ever to do so,” he said. “In 1953, the Oklahoma Legislature then established the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, OETA, as a state agency to make non-commercial television services available on a coordinated statewide basis.
“As a non-commercial television state agency with channels assigned to it by the FCC, it’s illegal for us to sell and air commercial advertising,” he said. “Our financial support must come from government and private resources. 
“OETA is Oklahoma’s only over-the-air statewide communication system,” he said. “Through our emergency communications system, we make Oklahoma communities safer by providing statewide Amber Alerts and serving as the backbone for state an national emergency communications,” he said. “As ‘Oklahoma’s storyteller’, OETA shares and preserves Oklahoma history, culture and heritage. Over the past 60 years, the Oklahoma Network has built and archived a digital living history with more than 3,000 Oklahoma stories.”
Schiedel concluded his address by reminding Rotarians that all the services offered by OETA are possible because of funding primarily from  state appropriations, in-kind contributions, foundation grants, and viewer contributions.
“More than 20 percent of our funding comes solely from viewer contributions — viewers like you — viewers like you who allow us to continue to be the only television operation, commercial or non-commercial, to serve the entire state and the only broadcast television signal for many rural Oklahomans,” he said.

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