City Cable Board gets update on Access 12

The Dunkirk Cable TV Board met recently and heard an update on the Access 12 station and its programming – or lack of programming.

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce again chaired the meeting, and called on outside contractors Michael Carbone and Andre Cobham to give an update on the station’s operations.

A concern was the lack of a broadcast of Friday’s Dunkirk High School football game which had been scheduled to air live.

Carbone explained the technical issues which caused the problems, and said they would be rectified. Ed Eaker is a member of the Cable Board and the long-time announcer for the broadcasts. A robust discussion took place between Eaker, who wanted to know what happened, and Carbone and Cobham, who explained what happened and the fix that was made.

Eaker had concerns about changes the pair made in camera placement and the lack of broadcaster headsets which allow Eaker and a partner to hear each other.

The pair said they were prepared for this Friday’s game but will both be out of the city on business, leaving the broadcast responsibilities in the hands of a 15-year-old student, who they only had the first name for. They added they only needed one person for the broadcast.

Long-term goals for the station were also discussed.

“Our plan is to take things and magnify them a little bit more. What we want to do is somehow work with the mayor, A.J., and the district of Dunkirk and see if we can get a grant that would take the public access station and the education part of it and kind of marry it all together,” Cobham explained. ” … We need to make sure things are done correctly. That is our biggest thing. … We are hired to do something, complete our contract and that’s what we’ll do. And we’ll do it to our best always. … I know we have three months left, it’s not a lot of time, but it’s to put in place something for the next three years. To build funding to the students so we have some shining star coming out of there.”

Dolce was asked after the meeting if he was satisfied with Carbone and Cobham, and if Time Warner viewers should be.

“I think they’re on the right track. I think they have a solid, long-term vision for the station, one that involves a steady stream of volunteers from the high school and college, because you need the volunteers to get the programming up there,” he replied. “But I think what we all would like to see more of is programming in the meantime. You know they’ve done a great job cleaning the station and laying the groundwork, but I know the frustration’s out there with the programming and I share in some of that frustration. There’s still three more months on their contract so we’ll see how things go.”

Dolce was asked if this was what he was looking for when they were hired, and if they will be back in January.

“The long-term goal of establishing volunteers is, most definitely, but we’re still waiting to see what happens with the level of programming, or the amount of programming that we’re going to get,” he replied. “Their contract goes to the end of December. I started working on budget stuff recently. I’ve budgeted for them but I think there’s still some concern, I know there’s some concern out there about the amount of programming. I think people are comfortable with their vision and all that, but they want to see if that programming steps up before they make a decision.”

Asked if it would behoove the pair to get programming going before it came time for council to approve another contract, Dolce replied, “Yes, that definitely wouldn’t hurt.”

There has been ongoing talk about the need for equipment that would automate the switching of programming. Dolce said that has not been finalized.

“We’re exploring our options in acquiring one and the city would like to acquire one, which they would reimburse through their efforts of sponsorship,” he replied. “I believe they’ve secured their first sponsor this past week.”

Dolce was asked why the city doesn’t use franchise fee money to purchase the equipment.

“That’s a possibility,” he replied. “I haven’t ruled that out but right now it’s not budgeted so I would have to come up with the money from other budget lines to get that in there.

Send comments on this story to gsnyder@observertoday.com