Letter to the Editor: Brunswick TV3

Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 in Opinion

What does Brunswick’s Cable TV mean to the citizens of Town of Brunswick?

The answer is most likely dependent on whether you utilize the town’s cable channel (TV 3) or not. Let’s assume everyone does because if you do not then this article will have little meaning for you. For those who do want and need TV 3, you’ll know it is a communication device, one that provides important information to the entire Citizenry of Brunswick. TV 3 provides different types of emergency information, and a detailed community bulletin board.

It provides citizens the opportunity to present varied types of opinion and views, whether you agree or not. It allows anyone to display and discuss their work, both pro and con. TV 3 provides programming in the arts, music, entertainment, informative programs, and is able to even present sport programs. The most important activity of TV 3 is the coverage of Town Meetings. These vital meetings cover every aspect of our Town, from Town Council and School Board meetings to respective committee meetings. Regardless of the importance of the meeting this aspect works to maintain the public openness of the town of Brunswick and the Brunswick School Department.

Without Cable TV 3, the public openness we now have learned to enjoy will come to an end.

Of course this is not free; there is an expense for Cable TV 3. In the 2012-13 budget, if Cable TV was to be fully funded with a full time position, would be $97,852. Does that seem like a great deal of money for Town government openness? Now realize that Cable TV 3 is able to operate as a result by the Town’s Cable Franchise with Comcast. As a result of that Franchise, the Town of Brunswick receives from Comcast franchise fees that exceed $200,000. The question arises, would it not be wise to fund TV 3 from that money? Another question is this; how is that money being used today?

Further know that the Town’s present Franchise Agreement with Comcast, provides the ability of the Town to operate four (4) channels not just one (1) as we do today. Also know that TV 3 at present has most if not all the equipment needed to operate those channels.

What would it mean to the citizens of Brunswick if we were able to operate those four separate channels? The possibilities are limitless. I also have the honor of chairing the Cable Franchise Committee, and I have a vision for Cable TV in Brunswick which I’ve stated it often; it is a basic vision but a vision that would provide Brunswick with what few communities have.

What I have presented and in fact am attempting to make happen, is listed below:

1. TV 3 becoming used for Government Program only.

2. The creation of a second channel that would be used by the School Department.

a. This channel would provide programming from our schools

i. School Board Meetings, present all the Boards information to the Public

ii. Class Room activities at all grade levels.

iii. The ability to present college programming from our area colleges

1. This could provide our citizens the ability to gain college credits at home

2. Continuing education while at home.

iv. To provide Sport programming, something that many people wish for.

v. Respective schools would be able to present the work of their students

1. Classical Arts

2. Music Programming

3. The Performing Arts

4. Any other programs that might be thought

vi. There would be an advantage to the School Department that the Department would have the ability to provide up to the minute information to the public (more importantly parents) on what is happening at a school or schools. (example – an emergency situation)

3. To create a private franchise group to operate a Public Access Channel (removing public access from the Government control)

What we all must know is that most if not all the cable connections and equipment are in place to make the above vision become reality today.

The truth is that we have a person named John Goran, the present TV 3 manager, to thank for Brunswick’s being in this position it is today with TV 3.

John is the person who answers your calls about TV 3 and problems with Comcast. It is John’s position that is being reduced from full time to part time (26 hours a week). It is John who has the most knowledge of TV 3 and the contents of the Franchise Agreement and future negotiations for agreements with Comcast.  It is John who knows how to fix the equipment when it breaks down and he does it whenever---on weekends, nights, vacations. He never abandons the station --- but it seems the Town Council is abandoning him.

I ask this; if you were John would you remain with Brunswick at a part time position or move on to a full time position elsewhere?

To defend Brunswick’s action, Brunswick just hired an IT person, a much needed indeed position. In that process it was determined that the cable position would be reduced to part time. What is known is that the Town’s IT person does not have the knowledge or that matter the time or ability to properly operate Brunswick TV 3.

Now we must ask what is the future of Brunswick’s TV 3 and Public Access?

 

WRITTEN BY DAVE WATSON, CHAIR, CABLE TV, ADVISORY COMMITTEE.  TO CONTACT DAVE, EMAIL HIM AT  dwatson1@comcast.net

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