Hi from Vancouver. I'm new to this board, but I have something concrete to add, I think. Less related to TV swansong, and more to the larger discussion of cable access).
In 2010 I curated a project called Hold Still Wild Youth: The GINA Show Archive, for Or Gallery. (you can look at some clips/the essay here: http://www.theginashow.orgallery.org/)
The project focused on a cable access television project initiated through an artist-run centre in Vancouver called PUMPS (active from 1975-80) The show was weekly from 1978-81, and ran (barely funded) on the steam of an artist-producer named John Anderson. It was a kind of compendium of the local scene - screenings of works, adverts, music videos, promotional info, talk show, etc.
In the course of working through this exhibition I considered the question of whether television is 'dead'. Ultimately, I concluded that the material nature of this project was a degenerating archival document. All of the works it contained were sort of by-product copies of the originals as well as a record of the moment of execution (the broadcast). I would say (and maybe you've already concluded) that the shift to online forums and modes of dissemination has fundamentally altered the possibilities of this kind of work. Online broadcast projects exist in an immediate archive - preserved, in a sense, for as long as anyone cares to keep their Youtube/Vimeo (etc) channel active.
In very practical terms, the tapes I was dealing with (originally 3/4 inch U-matic) were damaged (had been in a fire), some beyond repair. They were migrated to Betacam SP, Mini-Dv, and ultimately an electronic file for easy programming, but they still contained all of the mess of their age (lots of drop outs... ). So, I think of the tapes (and their copies) like I would a faded piece of paper. I wrote about the show at length and you can read about it on the site, so I won't go any further here, but...
The question of artists and community television is much larger history in Canada that goes well beyond Vancouver. (Our first show on record, or at least that I know of, was Images of Infinity, Vancouver, in 1974). The history is largely tied to a generation that begat artist-run centres. Further, i tended to come out of the non-profit artist-run centres who had a focus on (or were actively engaging with) video and new media. Video Inn, Vancouver, were actively lobbying the CRTC for an artist-controlled cable access channel in Vancouver). Many major cities across Canada had active communities of artists who were eager to take advantage of community access as a platform (SAW Gallery, Ottawa, A Space, Toronto, some on the East Coast -- the names escape me). Television by Artists (Toronto), for example, was a short-run project of 6 pieces commission to deal specifically with video art as television and emerged out of A Space Gallery as an extension of their Radio by Artists project. Some great pieces, including one by Dan Graham and Dara Birnbaum.
In the course of my research, I found that there were also many active projects in the US that straddled art/documentary, and many artists using the form of community television as part of a larger activist project. So. I certainly think artists can contribute to this larger conversation about community television, historically for sure. At present, I know of a few artists who are looking to what's left of community cable. Weekend Leisure in Vancouver.
Look forward to seeing what comes of your research. Don't hesitate to be in touch if you want to know more. I wrote my thesis about this stuff, and I'd be happy to share it.
Programs to have a look at:
the GINA Show (now housed in the archive at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver).
TV Party (NYC - episodes and a documentary are commercially available)
Weekend Babysitter (Winnipeg cable access, commercially available)
Television by Artists (Vtape has this)
Also worth looking into: