City ponders local programming options

COVINGTON - Local television programming is about to get a lot more exciting.

At least that's the aim of the Covington City Council in its quest to make use of four public, educational and government (PEG) channels that are at the city's disposal.

Following the sale of Covington Cable TV to Charter Communications, "the city wanted to have certain channels allocated to it through a franchise agreement for the airing of public education and government programming, anything community-based," City Manager Steve Horton said.

The city has formed a committee, including Horton, Utilities Director Bill Meecham, city councilwomen Hawnethia Williams and Janet Goodman, Mark Culbertson and Avis Williams to look into programming options.

It's already been decided that Covington City Council meetings will be broadcast.

Other possibilities could be anything from talk shows to cooking and gardening shows to educational programming, Horton said.

"We will have the ability to do video and live programming," Horton said.

With a TV studio available at Alcovy High School, "We're talking about incorporating some kind of mutual activities between us and the school to utilize the students, provided they want to and the school wants to get involved and do things to enhance the educational aspect of PEG channel activity," Horton said.

But, "to do those things, we had to have a certain amount of equipment at City Hall so we can generate signals on the cable system from here," he said, adding the city's previous equipment was sold to Charter.

The council agreed to spend more than $44,000 for operation and equipment-related costs at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Charter is currently running local channels 8, 13, 20 and 22 on the city's behalf. Charter will designate the city's new PEG channels.

Under the agreement with Charter, the city will get three channels initially and once those channels are at 65 percent capacity, the city can invoke the right to a fourth channel, Horton said.

While part of the equipment purchase includes a device for typing the text seen on Channel 8 announcements, "what you're going to see is more of a visual programming experience as opposed to just text," he said. "We anticipate doing more as far as actual programming instead of it just being animated, PowerPoint-type programming experience. There will be more opportunity for public participation, too."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.