Back in 1972...
1972 A group of students from the University of Texas interested in community access television forms Austin Community Television (ACTV). They begin talks with local politicians and the Capital Cable Company about access programming in Austin.
1973 Capital Cable board member Donald Thomas accepts the ACTV proposal in March, agreeing to broadcast community access programming five nights a week on cable channels 10 and 2. Follow-ing a June 1 incorporation, ACTV celebrates its first broadcast from Austin's Mt. Larson on June 6. Among the first night's showings are programs from the Travis State School, the Texas School for the Deaf, and Westlake High School. In Sept., ACTV expands broadcasting to five nights a week.
1978 Frank Morrow and Doug Kellner begin airing "Alternative Views," an interview program with a social and political bent. Now 21 years old, the award-winning show is among the longest running access shows in the nation.
1981 The City of Austin signs a 15-year contract with Austin CableVision, replacing Capital Cable as Austin's cable carrier. Austin CableVision promises a wider range of community access programming.
1982 ACTV enters a period of turmoil at the top: the organization will see 11 executive directors in the next 11 years.
1983 ACTV moves from a location above a toy store on Rio Grande to the City of Austin's Dougherty Arts Center.
1984 Protests erupt when ACTV broadcasts "Race and Reason," a seven-part series produced by the former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.
1985 National Federation of Local Cable Producers (NFLCP) gives ACTV their Community Communications Award for lifetime achievement.
1988 Austin Access and ACTV host a number of local and national speakers for a conference titled "The First Amendment: Free Speech on Cable Television." Tapes from the conference are still broadcast on ACAC.
1989 ACTV, gospel host Elmer Akins, and the call-in show Deep in the Heart are cited by Connoisseur magazine as reasons to give Austin's public programming one of 10 national "Connie" awards for the "best in television - the people and programs that make a difference."
1990 The new ACTV "Central Access Center" at Rosewood and Northwestern opens its doors. Built from the ground up as a television studio, the center boasts several video production rooms and state-of-the-art editing equipment.
1991 Scott Spurlock's Dull-a-Vision program shows footage of sexual intercourse, aborted fetuses, and a man committing suicide, leading to general protest and a city inspection of ACTV broadcast policies. Spurlock and Dull-a-Vision are pulled from the air for violating ACTV contracts; Spurlock leaves town shortly after.
Texas Monthly publisher Michael Levy resumes his 10-year old quarrel with ACTV in a letter to City Council, calling ACTV programming "Amateur Hour of the Air" and suggesting that city funds be directed away from ACTV's "noisy and indulgent few" and towards KLRU, AISD, and traffic light synchronization. He further suggests that the ACTV channels be returned to Austin CableVision for additional entertainment and educational programming
1993 Controversy flares when the Gay Men's Health Crisis' Infosex show airs a three-minute clip of two men engaging in safe sex: resulting protests lead to grand jury indictments of producers Terrell Johnson and Gareth Rees on obscenity charges. Eventually, the case will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1994 After a month of being closed to the public, ACTV reopens its doors in January, implementing a three-year restructuring plan based on the Total Quality Management model. In a December 1993 Chronicle cover story, Louisa C. Brinsmade and Chris Walters mourn ACTV's conversion from true community stomping ground to a "market driven communications center."
1995 ACTV institutes block programming, grouping shows of similar content into predetermined time slots.
1996 Austin and ACTV make national headlines when the Supreme Court rules on the Infosex case, upholding ACTV's contention that they are not legally responsible for material that an independent producer airs on their channels.
The City of Austin renews its contract with ACTV to provide public access services to Austin.
ACTV wins its second Community Communications Award from the former NFLCP, now known as the Alliance for Community Media.
ACTV formally changes its name to ACAC (Austin Community Access Center) to emphasize the center's "extended services to the community" including Internet access, multimedia workshops, and video production classes.
1998 ACAC reaches year 25. Mayor Kirk Watson will declare June 6 as ACAC Silver Anniversary Day in Austin.
- Jay Hardwig