Town officials on Tuesday approved $10,000 in additional taxpayer funds for a local public access channel, increasing the cable TV service’s budgeted pay by more than 25%.
The money will be used to “correct and fix” NCTV’s “digital channel by building out new channels,” according to Bob Doran, who told the Board of Selectmen that he’s “transitioning into leadership” there.
Though NCTV in recent years has become overly focused on government programming, Doran said, “I believe the possibilities are endless.”
“The channel is a great medium to show all it [New Canaan] has to offer to both current residents and to attract new families even,” Doran said during the selectmen’s regular meeting, held via videoconference.
“We are also looking to bring high-definition quality to the channel and moving from video to YouTube, for instance, to be even more accessible for our live-streamed events and on-demand viewing for all our residents anywhere, any time,” he added. “So, no matter where they are in the world.”
It wasn’t clear whether Doran referred to simple YouTube or Facebook streaming, or something more. Doran said he had “proof points” for the plan, though a “virtual fireworks” at Waveny garnered 600 total views, a recent ceremony recording at Town Hall 380 and a newly published series on local leaders about 100.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the appropriation.
The additional $10,000 comes from what Moynihan called the first selectman’s “economic development budget.” The meeting agenda referred to the taxpayer funds as a “grant.” Doran said he was requesting the funds from a municipal tourism committee that already has backed town spending on a celebration of New Canaan architecture as well as a promotional website.
Doran said NCTV will continue to air government coverage as well as community programs such as the 9/11 remembrance ceremony, series such as one aimed at seniors, pre-recorded programs and live events including concerts. The public access channel also will re-run videos, or “encore presentations of the best from years past,” Doran said.
The public access channel has “an important role … to play in promoting New Canaan as a place to do business and raise families,” Doran said.
The channel has been around since 1989, according to Doran.
“We want to move quickly to build a new website,” he said. “The current website is very old, many years old, and clunky and hard to use and inaccessible fo people. We want to build a new website and build up the social media distribution channels.”
He addressed the Board for about five minutes. Afterwards, Moynihan said, “Thank you Bob for an excellent presentation.”
The selectmen asked whether NCTV shares content with other public access channels in the area (yes), whats’ the relationship between the school district’s public access channel and NCTV (every town gets two stations, one for education and one for the town), what is the channel’s revenue stream (an annual town allotment plus privately raised money), whether NCTV can run commercials (no) and what is the total taxpayer spend through the tourism committee ($30,000).
The town already approved $29,000 in taxpayer funding for NCTV for this fiscal year, during its annual budget process. NCTV uses space at Town Hall, keeping its broadcast equipment there. The town pays NCTV for government programming, Doran said.
It isn’t clear how long the new allocation has been in the works. Doran used to serve on the tourism committee, an appointed municipal body chaired by Tucker Murphy, who now works for Moynihan.
Doran referred to NCTV as the common name of a nonprofit organization called “New Canaan Public Access Inc.” A IRS search of nonprofit organizations in New Canaan returned no entity by that name.