|Public Access Television - Lack of Legitimacy
Prem Rawat's supporting organizations, Elan Vital in the United States,
the United Kingdom, and in Australia are engaged in a sustained campaign
of arrogating Public Access Television - P.A.T and Public, Educational,
Government - P.E.G, programming.
Public Access Television is predicated on providing access for those who
could not otherwise gain broadcast opportunity, and who have broadcast
material that provides some form of public benefit. It is on the basis of
these twin pillars of Access and Benefit that the public and Local and
National Governments provide material support, and upon which Commercial
Broadcasters provide facilities and airtime to assure the success of both
P.A.T and P.E.G TV.
Elan Vital in its various guises claims a right to P.A.T and P.E.G
broadcast opportunities on the basis that it is 'non profit', yet the
matter of profit may not be the fundamental question when considering
whether P.A.T and P.E.G broadcast opportunity is legitimate. A fundamental
question is "what is the public benefit matched against any special or
personal benefit that accrues to those who produce or feature in any
Prem Rawat is, in direct contractual terms, distanced from the operation
of Elan Vital. Nevertheless Prem Rawat receives substantial indirect
benefit in the form of funding that is provided by Elan Vital to support
the acquisition and running of private jets and helicopters, the cost of
maintaining those acquisitions and the costs of a very expensive
travelling lifestyle. Any promotion of Prem Rawat which results in
increased income to Elan Vital or other Prem Rawat supporting
organizations increases the funds available to provide indirect benefit to
Matched against this huge personal benefit that accrues to Prem Rawat, the
public benefit from the arrogation of P.A.T and P.E.G resources by Prem
Rawat supporting producers, is negligible. The most commonly available
programming provided by Elan Vital is the "Words of Peace" series which
features Prem Rawat talking. While any talking head program may be
'interesting', in terms of P.A.T and P.E.G TV something more than
curiosity value should be expected to be delivered, there should be some
obvious 'public benefit'.
Why then (as Elan Vital claims) have over 100 P.A.T and P.E.G providers
around the world, given airtime to programs that promote Prem Rawat? One
explanation is the way in which Elan Vital's proxy producers operate. The
techniques involved are well demonstrated by two documented instances both
based in the US, the first involves P.A.T Station WYOU operating in
Wisconsin, the second concerns programming on the Adelphia network, P.E.G
allocated Channel 8.
Dartmouth College DMS Student
The Williamson-Marquette Gazette Report reveals the common strategy of
Prem Rawat's supporters in becoming the 'producer' for the 'off the shelf'
programming of the "Words of Peace" series, which is made by Visions
International, the trading subsidiary of the Elan Vital Church, for
broadcast by a P.A.T station.
The Dartmouth College situation reveals a somewhat different arrangement
whereby broadcast time on P.E.G (Public, Education, Government) allocated
Channels of a Commercial Cable provider, is accessed under the guise of
local residents 'sponsoring' the "Words of Peace" programs. In the
Dartmouth case Prem Rawat's supporters have even the audacity to seek the
suborning of the College's funds for this purpose.
The deficiency of the Elan Vital operation is that it is opaque. In the US
where the "Words Of Peace" programs are produced, Elan Vital is registered
as a Church, yet the bulk of Elan Vital material presents it and Prem
Rawat as being non religious. The entire basis of Prem Rawat's teaching is
derived from Hindu and Sikh tradition and is closely identified with the
Sant Mat religious doctrine, at no point do the programs explain this
history. Further although the whole of the "Words Of Peace" programming
features Prem Rawat, the relationship between Prem Rawat and Elan Vital is
never made clear, particularly that Prem Rawat is accorded an exceptional
level of expense to support his world travels.
P.A.T and P.E.G broadcasting is often provided on a first-come first-serve
basis, this gives a huge advantage to organizations that have, as is the
case with Elan Vital, a commercial subsidiary providing production and
financial support. It is anything but a fair, that community level
programming should be competing with the resources available to Elan
Vital, whose UK operation alone raises £2 million (US$3.5 million) per
annum and which expends over $4 million per annum on Prem Rawat's private
jet and his international travel.
Most P.A.T providers are desperate for high production value content. When
presented with a ready-made product that seems to accord with a moral
concern about world peace and to provide free lifestyle 'self improvement'
opportunities, it is not surprising that Station managers and Cable
executives accept Elan Vital and Prem Rawat at face value. P.A.T and P.E.G
providers however have a public duty to thoroughly scrutinize what it is
they are endorsing. Because no matter what disclaimers may be carried,
every time a P.A.T or P.E.G provider permits the screening of a program,
they are saying to the public they serve "this program and its producers
and creators are of value".
P.A.T and P.E.G Providers giving airtime to Prem Rawat.