Locals Access TV Station

Harvard students bemoaning their lack of cable television may wistfully remember that channel back home which aired their third grade science fair or high school graduation.

But DeWolfe residents searching for local programing are more likely to find "Laughing Matters," a comedy about a group of lesbians, or "Ivory Tower," a soap opera about Harvard.

Those programs are shown by Cambridge Community Television (CCTV), a group which shows alternative community programming on channels 19,54,55 and 66, in addition to the more standard fare broadcast on other local channels.

The station is "content neutral," meaning it will show any program produced or sponsored by a Cantabrigian without regard to its content, says Susan B. Fleischmann, director of CCTV.

The City Council Monday declared this week Cambridge Freedom of Expression Week, marking the fifth anniversary of CCTV.

The non-profit group, which receives most of its funding from the local cable company, was formed to provide a forum for the expression of many viewpoints.

"Access came about as another way to exercise our first amendment right," Fleischmann says.

All CCTV members can receive free training, access to the group's studios and equipment to produce shows for the access channels. All Cambridge residents--including Harvard students--can become members by paying a fee ranging from $15 to $35.

Alex O'Brien Feldman, who describes his occupation as "court jester," is using CCTV's facilities to produce a five-minute segment to air in December using footage from his street performances in Japan last summer.

Feldman says he enjoys performing live, but he said the television segment is special because it shows police officers stopping his performance. "You can't recreate these things for an audience," he says.

But right now the station isn't serving as many people as it has in the past. "For the first couple of years it was very busy here. Later it just dropped off," Fleischmann says.

To try to encourage more people to take advantage of CCTV, the group is advertising on five billboards throughout the city and sponsoring special events this week, including a live call-in last night and a speakout on violence prevention on Friday.

Tomorrow, the group will inaugurate an electronic soapbox, which will allow people who don't know how to use film equipment to go on the air live and field phone calls.

The group broadcasts alternative programs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. During the rest of the day, it broadcasts the international news service SCALA on channel 54.