Paper Tiger Television (PTTV)

Paper Tiger Television (PTTV)


* Nonprofit collective of radical video makers, distributors, and activists
* Created Deep Dish TV to distribute its videos nationwide like a television network
* Funded with taxpayer dollars

Paper Tiger Television (PTTV) is a nonprofit video collective that produces documentaries, studio shows, and advocacy shorts. It was established in 1981, when veteran video producer Dee Dee Halleck brought together several fellow producers to create a new entity devoted to critical readings of newspapers, magazines, and media issues. The following year, the fledgling PTTV began to air its programming on Manhattan public-access television. Tapes of the shows were then distributed to universities, museums, access channels, and art centers, thanks to funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.

In 1986, using taxpayer money appropriated for the arts—as they did to create Paper Tiger TV—Halleck and her PTTV cohorts launched the satellite channel Deep Dish TV to further facilitate the instant distribution of their videos to local cable systems nationwide.

Through its documentary programs, community screenings, media literacy/video-production workshops, and grassroots advocacy, PTTV works to “expose and challenge the corporate control of media.” To “counterbalance” the “bias and misrepresentation of issues” in what it perceives to be a right-leaning mainstream media industry, PTTV seeks also to “involve communities in the process of making media”; promote “more equitable and democratic control of the information industry”; and “increase awareness of how media can be used to affect social change.”

While PTTV has a small part-time staff that handles its day-to-day distribution and administrative functions, it has no organizational hierarchy—i.e., no president, executive director, managers, or governing board. All major decisions are made at collective meetings, by consensus. And all production work is done by volunteers.

PTTV’s video catalog currently consists of more than 340 selections, priced at $175 apiece. One particularly significant title is Standing With Palestine, which in 2004 was produced “in support of the Palestinian people and against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Also noteworthy is Mumia Abu-Jamal: Giving a Face to the Death Penalty, which lionizes the convicted cop-killer as “an award-winning journalist” whose incarceration resulted from an “unfair trial and sentencing.” Crash the G8 Party and Showdown in Seattle are two of PTTV’s many anti-capitalist videos. Class Dismissed features the anti-American views of the late Marxist historian Howard Zinn, who sought to emphasize the roles that “race and class” have always played in U.S. history. And Paper Tiger TV Flushes Rush is a film that derides the popular conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh.

Apart from the titles cited above, Paper Tiger productions cover a broad range of topics. For example, the PTTV video catalog includes selections that: condemn corporations for “chipping away at democracy and personal integrity”; impugn Americans’ tendency to “glamorize consumption”; salute the Occupy Wall Street movement for its recognition of “the problem of capitalism as a system”; explain how “anti-capitalist resistance” intersects with LGBT activism; praise the infamous 1999 anti-World Trade Organization protests/riots in Seattle; discuss how “gentrification and development” affect many urban residents in a negative way; applaud “social justice organizations” that address “the root causes of social problems” and thereby promote “decent living conditions” for the poor; exalt the tenets of radical environmentalism and the benefits of “green lifestyle[s]”; portray police brutality against African Americans as a widespread phenomenon; accuse the Republican Party of waging an “assault on civil liberties and women’s rights”; urge young people not to enlist in the U.S. military; cheer the anti-American agendas of the peace movement; give voice to “feminist and queer” perspectives on various social issues; and echo the National Education Association‘s relentless call for smaller class sizes (and more unionized teachers), so as to alleviate “overcrowding in public schools.”

To view the entire catalog of PTTV videos, click here.

From 1986 to 2016, PTTV rented office space at 339 Lafayette Street in New York City. Owned by the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute (AJMMI), this so-called “Peace Pentagon” building served as a home to numerous radical organizations. Also among its tenants were Deep Dish TV, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, the Nicaragua Solidarity Network, Not In Our Name, the Socialist Party of New York City, the War Resisters League, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In 2016, however, AJMMI sold the building to developer Aby Rosen for $20.75 million, and all of the organizations with offices therein had to relocate.

PTTV is financially supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, and private donations.

For additional information on PTTV, click here.

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