Friday, March 4, 2005
Is community TV in Carlisle's future?
If you were away the weekend before school vacation week, you probably missed all four performances of the bicentennial play. It could have been videotaped for airing on Comcast's Channel 8, if Carlisle had the equipment and trained personnel to record the play.
But changes are on the way and Carlisle has a unique opportunity to join a grass-roots effort to establish community access television in our area. Last November Comcast turned over operation of its TV studio at Concord-Carlisle High School to a Concord-based non-profit group called CCTV, Inc. Court Booth, director of Concord-Carlisle Adult and Community Education, is the volunteer chairman of the organization's board of directors. "We're not sure yet what CCTV stands for," he said. "It might be Concord-Carlisle TV if Carlisle decides to participate." CCTV members pay a one-time fee of $10 (students in grade 6 and above, $5; teachers free), which entitles them to enroll in free training courses and submit programs for local broadcast.
The board of directors includes one member from Carlisle, Ricart Prats, who had "just stopped in at an open meeting to see what it was all about." Prats' interest is in producing music programs, and he has already taped a local concert to benefit tsunami victims. While many towns with established community access TV air tapes of local government meetings, Prats is enthusiastic about the potential of the medium. "There is a ton of content," he says. "People don't realize the power of this channel."
Financing the studio
Booth reports that Comcast made a one-time payment of $295,000 to CCTV to upgrade studio facilities at the high school and equip other locations around Concord to originate broadcasting. In addition, according to Concord's license agreement with Comcast, the cable provider will give the town 4% of the license fees from Concord cable subscribers, or about $100,000 a year to operate the station.
If Carlisle joins Concord, it too will receive operating funds. The town's renewal license with Comcast dated October 13, 2001 stipulates an annual payment of 3% of its license fees for programming when a non-profit community access organization is formed. [check with Madonna]. The town also received $25,000 in February 2002 to purchase video equipment for Town Hall with an additional payment of $15,000 scheduled for October 2006, the final year of the five-year contract. The $25,000 has been set aside until someone with technical knowledge can recommend how to spend the money.
Having high-quality equipment available is a prerequisite for videotaping programs for broadcast. Equally important are the personnel to operate the equipment and edit the tapes. CCTV does not provide the personnel to produce programming — that's up to volunteers in the individual towns — but it does offer frequent workshops in video production. A new seven-week training began on March 1 with an orientation session and will continue weekly, covering all the requisite skills, until April 12. Carlisle residents can sign up for free classes in production right now by calling the studio at 1-978-369-3058 before the next class on Tuesday, March 8.
Carlisle students in grade six and up are especially encouraged to take the training course. By producing programs or being part of a TV crew, students can earn community service credits. And just imagine the wealth of innovative programming that students can come up with!
If Carlisle gets on the ball and joins CCTV soon, we could see our own professional video cameras and trained crew at bicentennial activities scheduled throughout the year. Then if you're out of town on Old Home Day, you can watch the celebrations on Channel 8 when you get back.
For more information on CCTV, go to www.CCTV.org or call Carlisle resident Ricart Prats at 1-978-369-6578.
© 2005 The