Not ‘your grandfather’s video’
EAGLE COUNTY – Flipping through your television channels, you likely always skip over channel 18 – a black screen with scrolling Eagle County Regional Airport information.But you won’t skip past the channel much longer, says Eagle County Communications Director Justin Finestone. By the end of September the county will have launched a broadcast-quality 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week government television station.The new station, ecotv 18, will broadcast county board of commissioners meetings and government television programs as well as weather, airport and emergency information, among other items. The station’s flagship show, not yet named, will be a 30-minute news-magazine style show exploring county news, events, programs and services, Finestone said. In addition to this show, and the commissioners meeting, each of the commissioners will host a 30-minute talk show with members of the public.”It gives them the opportunity to share why they vote the way they do,” Finestone said.
Channel 18 will tap into area Colorado Department of Transportation cameras to give viewers an idea of the weather and road conditions. An airport camera, along with flight information, will give travelers information. Using “crawls” at the bottom of the screen, and by cutting into regularly scheduled programming, the county will also be able to quickly put out emergency information. “This just gives us another tool to communicate with the public,” Finestone said.The county was set to launch a government television station at this time last year, but the departure of County Administrator Jack Ingstad and Communications Director Deborah Churchill put the project on hold. Finestone said reviving the television station was one of his top priorities.”It is just a great community asset,” he said.When the station was set to launch last year, it would have only gone to upvalley Comcast subscribers. But a new CenturyTel line from the Eagle and Gypsum areas to the Comcast head in Avon will enable down valley CenturyTel customers to watch Eagle County’s government station on channel 18 as well.”This is great because we definitely want this to be a countywide thing,” Finestone said.
Channel 18 has been held on both Comcast and CenturyTel systems for the past year, broadcasting only airport schedules. Ecotv 18 has no firm budget, but will be funded solely by cable franchise fees paid by Comcast and CenturyTel. Finestone said those fees total about $200,000 a year.Finestone said he wants Eagle County residents to know that the ecotv 18 will be anything but boring. At a previous job in Mariposa County, Ariz., Finestone’s government TV channel won an Emmy Award.”Traditionally though, people think of government TV as bad,” he said. “It needs to be watchable, and we have the resources to do that.”Those resources include three cameras in the county commissioners meeting room, state-of-the-art field equipment, and an editing system in a back room of the Eagle County building, he said. “It is kind of like a mini-TV studio,” Finestone said.
In addition, the county has hired two new staff members, both with extensive broadcast production backgrounds, to work for the government station. Scott Fifield, the video production manager, said he wants to create a quality final product so people don’t know they’re watching government TV.”Most of it looks like your grandfather’s video,” he said. “The challenge is to make government TV interesting.”Fifield and the video production specialist, Josh Stowell, said their diverse and complementing skills will help create government television that can compete with any other cable channel, while also putting out valuable community information. They will spend the next few months creating programming to run after the channel launches. They will also explore issues important to county residents, they said. “People want to know what’s happening and how their money is being spent,” Stowell said. “Disseminating that information is huge.”Vail, Colorado
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