Access to city meeting shows gets harder
August 9, 2008
Government meetings aired on public access channels will be more expensive to watch starting later this month, but the city, a cable company and the public access station might have a solution.
Charter Communications will move programs on channels 10 and 26 in their cable package to channels 210 and 226, which are only available with a $5-a-month digital converter box, on Aug. 26.
The company doesn’t have much of choice because it needs to make room for programs and channels that customers are demanding, said George Jostlin of Charter Communications.
“Quite honestly, it’s a competitive situation,” he said.
But the city is working with Charter to replay meetings of the city supervisors, planning commission and school board on channel 18, which is a basic cable channel and airs shows such as News Carson City.
Charter has a state contract, so the city doesn’t have power to force the company to keep the public access channels on basic cable.
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Jostlin said he met with the city Tuesday and promised to do what he could to keep some government meetings on regular cable, which about 10 percent of the people around Carson City have.
Supervisor Pete Livermore said the public access channels are important for an open government and he is pushing to have at least 10 hours of local programs on the channel.
Without it, he said, “How the hell are we going to get the message out to the public?”
The public access stations are run through Access Carson City, and General Manager Mike Furlong said the problem for many people might be fixed as the station increases the number of meetings it posts on its Web site, acctv.org.
This will not be immediate, however, and “the way people get (channels) 10 and 26 is going to be a little more complicated,” he said.
Furlong encouraged people to call the station at 882-8900 ex. 154 to tell him what programs they want posted on the site.
The site will also hopefully soon have videos that can be navigated through more easily by each agenda item.
But Sam Dehne, who comes to almost every city supervisors meeting, said he thinks it’s “subterfuge” that the channels are being moved into “government cyberspace,” especially because Charter doesn’t have any immediate plans to replace channels 10 and 26 with anything.
“The only logical explanation a person could give is that they’re trying to take the best show on television, the Sam Dehne show, and send it into cyberspace so nobody can see it,” he said laughing.
– Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.