For Cynthia Veliquette, community access was the ideal vehicle to deliver a message about AIDS.
“I believe in public access,” she said. “People are always griping about what is on TV, but they don’t do anything about it.”
Using her own money, Veliquette produced a seven-part series, “AIDS: 911,” which is currently airing Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. on Cox Cable’s community access channel, Channel 24. It focuses on educating people about risk behavior and debunking many of the myths about the disease.
Veliquette first became emotionally involved with the AIDS issue while preparing a dissertation on post-traumatic stress disorder manifestations in children whose parents have AIDS. At the time she was taking classes at the University of Humanistic Studies in Del Mar. She now is involved with several groups, and serves as a board member for the Los Angeles-based Tuesday’s Child, which counsels children tested HIV-positive and their families.
After having no luck with any of the local television stations in attracting interest in an AIDS show, she decided to use access to do her own programs.
“I wasn’t happy with anything on TV addressing the AIDS issue,” Veliquette said.
She was familiar with access from having spent several years early in her career working in the administrative end of the cable industry.
Community access “is what it says it is,” she said. “It is a chance for the public to get on the air. I’m always surprised more people don’t use the service.”
A Del Mar resident, she spent $60 to go through a workshop on how to use the video equipment at Del Mar’s cable studio, which is operated by Daniels Cablevision. In order to ensure quality, she hired technicians, who she found through a referral list at the station. In total, Veliquette estimates she spent $7,000 of her own money on the project, which she calculated in terms of salaries, equipment fees and time away from her work.
When it became difficult to arrange time to finish the production in Del Mar, she moved to the Southwestern Cable facility, where she was assisted by Southwestern’s community access representative, Ron Hebert.
“AIDS: 911" already has aired on cable systems in North County, including the Southwestern and Daniels systems, and Veliquette has been pleased with the response. She is developing plans for another series exploring different aspects of the AIDS issue.
“I have been real surprised,” she said. “I know each one of the shows gave a listing for people to write for HIV test sites and just when it showed in the North County I’ve gotten over 100 responses. That’s what I feel good about; that was my purpose.”