Getting channel 5 back up to speed
AVON – Channel 5, the local equivalent of C-SPAN, has been a ship without a captain for the last year and has drifted into financial shoal waters.It has suffered financial and technical problems that have severely limited what it broadcasts, but that may soon change.”We’re restructuring,” said station manager Richard Knapp, who again became general manager in November after a year’s absence, during which the station had virtually no management. “When I left in 2003 the station was in pretty good shape.”The station is expected to begin airing original programming – meetings and events – sometime in the next month, Knapp said. It broadcasts 24 hours a day and sometimes uses a community calendar with a “crawl” across the screen for events. On recent evenings the station has been broadcasting a simple graphic or picture instead of meeting coverage or regular features.The station operates on a quintessential shoestring budget of approximately $120,000 a year. It has three full-time employees and uses interns from Battle Mountain High School to film public meeting ranging from the Vail and Avon town councils to ECO Transit meetings, he said.The town of Vail supplied $63,836 of that and Avon, $36,647. The towns donated a portion of the franchise fees charged for cable television users. The remaining funding comes from sponsorships and donations.”The station was neglected,” Knapp said. “I saw a lot of the equipment I had used dismantled and in disrepair. A television station is a machine that has to have all its parts to work”Some of the parts needed will cost the station an additional $20,000, Knapp said. The Vail town council supplied $10,000 of that and Avon is considering an identical request made Tuesday night. The money will be used to purchase more memory for a digital server and other equipment, he said.Channel 5 board president Michael Brown said the station has suffered from dealing with a fixed income stream that has limited what can be done”The budget isn’t enough to cover operational costs and to replace outdated equipment,” he said, adding that not having a manager has “interrupted the continuity of fund raising.”The station will ask Avon, Vail and private donors for more money, Brown said.The station began airing public education and governmental meetings in 1982, Knapp said. It has offices and a studio on Metcalf Road in Avon.There are no paid commercials airing on the station, Knapp said, but that possibility is something that is being considered to raise money for the station.”We’re getting close,” Knapp said, adding that he expects to have up to seven hours of original programming on the station once it solves its problems. The station has more competition now. Plum TV hit the airwaves this winter, and Eagle County will begin broadcasting ECO TV from Edwards to cover county meetings.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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