If you have some free time and an interest in television there is a place for you with Dunkirk’s Local Access 12 station. That much is clear after a report from Access 12 Coordinator and Pro-gram Director Christa Haynes during a recent meeting of the Dunkirk Cable TV Advisory Board.
Haynes, who now tapes Common Council meetings due to a lack of live broadcast capability from City Hall, was asked about the March 19 council meeting by Second Ward Councilman William J. Rivera, council’s ex-official member on the board. Haynes was ill and unable to tape the meeting and Rivera wanted to know if any other board members could operate a camera.
The question lead to a discussion about the board, the operation of the station, what people wanted to watch and the lack of volunteers.
“What are we doing this for? What are we having these meetings for if we don’t know what people are watching, we don’t know what they like and we don’t have anything new to put on there?” member Edwin Rodriguez asked. “We’re just playing old archived stuff. We have to come up with something different, something fresh.”
After a discussion of why some things weren’t able to be broadcast, Rodriguez pushed the social media aspect of the station and called for better advertising to get attention to programming.
The lack of progress did not sit well with Rivera.
“We sit around this table once a month and we throw around what I believe are a lot of good ideas. We come back the next month and none of this has been done, so it’s up to this room full of people to get this figured out,” Rivera said. “How are we going to make more of what we’ve got? We’re at a blank when it comes to volunteers and unfortunately what it leaves is the people in this room to do it. … Do we not have the time to make anything of this? I guess that’s the bottom line.”
Haynes said people are needed.
“I can’t do it all. Doing all the council meetings and school functions I miss a lot of my kids stuff,” she stated. ” … I’m the one who always has to give up something to be down there to do something. … It’s really hard to tell my kids, sorry I have to go tape something. I can’t do it.
“I can’t do it all the time and it’s getting to that point I need to make that choice.”
Haynes said she wasn’t talking about walking away but something has to change. Rivera said he understood completely and had discussion with Mayor Anthony J. Dolce on providing some remuneration but budgetary restrictions make that unlikely.
Haynes said she wasn’t talking money but time spent volunteering.
“At some point something’s going to give,” she added. “It’s a labor of love.”
Board Chairman Danny McGill said he’s inquired about grants several times since the station began but the reply is no because the station is part of the city’s operations.
“We get $120,000 a year franchise fee and we’ve got to go in front of the council and mayor, just like any other board or commission, and fight for whatever we get,” he explained. “Last year because of the problems, situation, misunderstandings, whatever, all those lines were taken away from us as far as spending and doing things.”
McGill pointed out the Dunkirk Free Library gets much more than the station operation does. Rivera said the amount the station gets from the franchise fee was one of his first concerns and it was something he hopes to address. The franchise fee was listed at $122,000 for 2013 while the station was budgeted for $22,249.
“I would like everybody to take this conversation as we’ve just been called out. It’s time to step up and get it done. … I heard everything you just said and it is what it is,” Rivera stated. “It’s up to this board to get this figured out and I feel I’ve been called out and I hope everybody here feels the same way. … We have an amazing resource here and it’s just sitting there in the closet.”
After the meeting Rivera said he was “very frustrated with the whole situation.”
“Our television station is supposed to be a key part of the transparency of the city. It is not,” he added. “We have no volunteers because we have no one who can open up the doors of communication with the college. In my opinion it can be the only constant flow of interns our station can pull from. The problem with that is that an intern is more likely looking for someone who may be able to teach them something. … We have no one who can do that for them.”
Rivera said he took what he heard as “calling out myself to get something figured out.” He added he was already working on it.
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