Vision for Success Headline Animator

Saturday, October 17, 2009

City should have its own TV station

Last week I scratched the surface of addressing an issue that seemed to spark the interest of many people.

I contacted Comcast, the local cable provider who uses public airwaves/ lines to broadcast, about what Anderson’s effort to have its own television station might cost. I spoke to Brett Hatch, Manager of Communications & Local Programming.

Mr. Hatch explained that Comcast provides “access” to local municipalities to air programming. Some cities have up to 5 channels that they use to broadcast community news, events, and community based programming.

What was astonishing to me was the number of people within the company that had no idea what Anderson was doing with the allocated channel given to the city. This is not about something for which tax payers have to pay additional fees to air programming. This is about public access channels that are given to this community by law.

There are several approaches that can be taken to secure a cable TV station which is much different than having a public access channel.

You have to apply for licensing through the Federal Communication Commission. This involves raising the capital and having the equipment to broadcast your own programming once approved by the FCC.

According to Mr. Hatch, the challenge is in providing 24 hour programming. He seems to think Video on Demand channels are the wave of the future. You purchase a channel and focus your efforts as a broadcast station on driving traffic to your VOD channel to watch your programming.

By the way, the FCC is an independent United States government agency established by the Communications Act of 1934. It is charged with regulating interstate and international communications for television.

Please understand that there are two separate topics here. One is that Anderson has been given public access channels by law which are underutilized.

Though the channel(s) are provided, the city would have to work with correlating groups, schools, and or university to provide programming content, local equipment, and locate the space to generate or originate a signal.

Again, the cost for something like this is in the equipment. Many cities, such as Muncie, partner with universities to use their equipment or make the investment to purchase the equipment for the community to air programming sometimes produced by local citizens
The other most common effort for those of interest in the private sector is creating a broadcast station. This involves undisclosed private dollars that a group or individual puts towards running an independent station.

Whether it is a public access channels or the creation of a local network by a non community based group, TV along with the internet offers our community access and opens the doors to information and potential revenue.

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