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City aiming to keep public TV on the air

Posted: October 26, 2008 7:11 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The Santa Clarita City Council is set to vote Tuesday on how to manage the Santa Clarita Valley's public television channel, Channel 20.

A new state law that goes into effect Jan. 2 eliminates the requirement for Time Warner Cable to provide production support for Channel 20.

Despite the change in law, the city wants to maintain the Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) Access channel.

"The city certainly feels that local public television is an important asset and valued by the community," said Kevin Tonoian, the city's technology services manager.

At the same time, many local producers are able to show their work to the community, he said.

In June, the city began a process to award a three-year contract to an interested company that would operate and manage all programming on Channel 20.

The city received proposals from Santa Clarita Valley Television (SCVTV) and the Santa Clarita Public Television Corporation (SCPTC), which withdrew its proposal in September.

Upon review, city staff found that SCVTV is strong on experience and fostering community-based partnerships, but lacks available financial resources.

The results of the review, paired with the sluggish economy, led to the city staff's recommendation that the City Council reject all proposals from companies that submitted applications to operate and manage programming on Channel 20, Tonoian said.

In an effort to continue public TV, the staff recommends that Channel 20 become an in-house operation by offering a contractual position to manage the public access studio facility, located in Newhall, Tonoian said.

"In considering the current state of the economy, our limited resources and the numerous competing city priorities, staff believes bringing public television in-house is the most fiscally responsible recommendation," he said.

To make that possible, city staff requests $116,000 for one-time studio equipment and costs associated with the continuing lease of the building on 14th Street. An additional $25,000 is requested for the hiring of part-time contractual staff to manage the public access facility.

If the council adheres to the staff's recommendation, the city would continue to offer government programming on Channel 20, including airing the City Council and Planning Commission meetings. Local producers would also be able to re-air shows on Channel 20.

Despite possible changes, Tonoian does not anticipate a gap in programming.

"Our intention is come Jan. 2 to be in a position where programming on Channel 20 will remain available to the community," he said.


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