Bellingham public access TV pilot program off to slow start

Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Just about two months into a public access television pilot program, the city has received only seven videos to air during the six hours set aside each Sunday evening on the city’s government and educational cable channel, BTV10.

Since the city started accepting submissions in September, there have been a few weeks when the city has not received anything to air, Deputy Administrator Brian Heinrich told City Council Monday afternoon, Nov. 24.

Initially, program staff did not want to repeat videos or allow them to be submitted again, but repeats now will be allowed, Heinrich said.

Council member Roxanne Murphy asked if the city should be worried about not having enough content to fill the set-aside time, but Heinrich said he was more surprised, not worried.

“It takes some time for people to figure out that’s something they can participate in,” Heinrich said.

The city has advertised the program in Cascadia Weekly, put up fliers at the library, hosted informational meetings and continues to air a staff-created video promoting the program on BTV10.

Money for the channel comes from franchise fees paid to the city from cable provider Comcast/Xfinity. In August, council members approved spending $50,000 of that cash to pay for a yearlong trial, including implementing a training program and buying some camera equipment.

In early December, the city will put out a request for proposals for the training program, Heinrich said. The plan is to start the training and equipment programs early in 2015.

More information about the channel, including how to submit videos, is available online at cob.org/accessbellingham.

Brian Heinrich’s title was corrected Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014.