The challenge now, of course, is turning the enthusiasm into something concrete. Morgan said the workshop and report have spurred discussions among cable providers, news organizations, and others. And UNC has given the project its imprimatur. The webpage for the university’s report features a video of Susan King, dean of the journalism school and a television news veteran, describing the vision for the state public access network. “That was her setting the priority,” Morgan said.

The UNC report made other recommendations, many of which apply nationally: encouraging the FCC to relax media cross-ownership rules, calling on the FCC to help resolve uncertainty in IRS policies that affect media nonprofits, and urging more partnerships between working journalists and journalism schools. But here in the Tar Heel State, the top priority remains the C-SPAN-style project.

“If nothing comes out of this except a state public affairs network,” Morgan said, “that’s a lot.”

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Andria Krewson is an independent journalist in Charlotte and a student in the University of North Carolina's master of arts in technology and digital communication. She worked at The Charlotte Observer for many years. Find her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/underoak or http://twitter.com/akrewson.