Local television gets another 3-year contract

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From local plays to government meetings, Carson City's cable access television helps local productions get on the air and into the community.

Carson City supervisors agreed Thursday to another three-year contract with station's foundation board, a deal which includes $110,000 in annual funding.

The agreement comes with terms to broadcast -- and rebroadcast -- more meetings from Carson City government on Channel 26.

"The goal is to make 26 an active arm of communication from this body to the community," City Manager John Berkich said.

However, supervisors were critical of the quality of some of the station's programs, especially how they and their colleagues in government meetings look in broadcasts from the Community Center's Sierra Room. Supervisor Jon Plank said while watching meetings at home on Channel 26, if he "didn't know who was sitting there, I wouldn't know who they were."

"Quality is important to those watching," Plank said.

Except for Supervisor Robin Williamson, who argued the purpose of local television was "to get the story out" not to "make us look more attractive on screen," supervisors argued for more quality control to make sure they don't look bleached out, asked they get equal camera time and suggested focus on individual city boards and commission members rather than wide-angle shots.

Plank also mentioned the local studios could use a remodel.

All good ideas, said Craig Swope, cable access executive director, but the station has just three full-time staff, one part-time worker and 16 volunteers who offer their time to film meetings for Channel 26 and help Girl Scouts learn television production for shows on Channel 10.

Also, they have just a $190,000 a year budget to operate under -- about a third of their Washoe County counterpart. The station's work will always "suffer" from being compared to stations with state-of-the art programming ability and equipment, Swope said.

The programs look different in each home depending on cable connections, Swope said.

"We are not blameless on quality issues," Swope said. "We're not in control of what everything looks like when they get it on their televisions."

Williamson said the station is a valuable asset in helping Carson residents understand how their government works. While she said the station members "do the best you can" setting a higher standard of quality for the station might not be a reality because "you don't have the staff and equipment to take it to a different level."

Swope has no statistics on how many viewers tune into the two stations, but said most community news pours through Channel 10, which with a slot on the dial between ABC and FOX, likely garners a lot of attention.


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