UCSB recently joined forces with local cable television provider Cox Communications to create a regional University of California Television channel.

UCTV is based out of UC San Diego and features commercial free, round-the-clock educational programming from each UC campus. Programs include documentaries, lectures and performances targeting groups ranging from kindergarten students to college professors.

Although UCSB has contributed 475 programs to UCTV since 2005, UCTV Managing Director Lynn Burnstan and UCTV Communications Manager Alison Gang said a push was made for the regional station due to a general lack of educational programming in the area.

California’s Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 mandates that cable providers make an additional public, education or government (PEG) channel available to a program that airs more than 56 hours of content per week on an existing PEG channel. Because UCTV programs aired on local Santa Barbara Channel 21 would exceed this requirement, the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved UCSB’s Dec. 7 request that Cox provide a UCTV channel.

UCSB film & media studies professor Constance Penley — who also acts as co-director of the Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television and New Media — said the Santa Barbara center has worked with UCTV for several years to expand the university’s digital image and availability.

“UCTV programs, whether broadcast or streamed, are a great resource for students,” Penley said. “UCTV programs are the most highly accessed at YouTube University. Students can also participate in the creation of programs for UCTV once we have more of the production infrastructure in place.”

Aside from benefitting students, Penley said the channel will provide programmers more airtime for educational segments.

“As we build up our ability to create our own programming, we can insert more and more of our shows into UCTV,” Penley said.

In a letter to Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said the channel’s informative programs will greatly benefit the university and community as a whole.

“The range of educational, informational, and cultural events that take place on our campus and around the UC system is truly exceptional, and a dedicated higher education channel presents an opportunity for the entire Santa Barbara community to be part of this dynamic learning environment,” Yang said in the letter. “Given Santa Barbara’s richness and diversity, we believe the community would be well served by a cable channel focused on higher education programming.”