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3 public channels coming

COVINGTON - The spotlight will be shining on local residents soon as the city of Covington is preparing to take over three television channels for community use.

The city council approved Monday night a policies and procedures manual for the new Covington Community Television, which will consist of three public, educational and government (PEG) channels.

The channels will "give individuals who otherwise might not have access to the media an opportunity to display and showcase their talent, knowledge, interests and any other information with the rest of their community," according to the manual.

The city has notified local cable service provider Charter Communications Inc. that it will take over channels 8 and 20 by Jan. 12 and channel 22 by Feb. 16, according to City Manager Steve Horton.

The channels will then be open to the public to produce and broadcast programs.

The city will maintain video and production equipment at City Hall or professional production companies may be used.

The city equipment will be available to residents of the county, employees of a company doing business permanently in Newton County for the purpose of providing authorized community information related to the company, employees of Newton County or any municipality or school if programming is related to the employer's activities, campaign organizations of any local candidates, and students attending educational institutions fulltime in Newton County.

One of the first uses of the channels will be to broadcast city council meetings, said Mayor Kim Carter.

The city may give free air time to the school system and Newton County government, according to Horton.

Other users will pay a nominal fee, he said, adding that the fee schedule has yet to be worked out, but it will be comparable to what Charter charges, which is about $40 for a half hour slot. There will be an additional charge for studio time and commercial spots.

"It is definitely not about trying to make a profit on it, but it's just about trying not to go in the hole on it," Horton said.

Funding for Covington Community Television will come from franchise fees paid to the city by Charter, fees and service charges to users of CCTV, sponsorships or paid announcements, and air time charges and donations from individuals, corporations and other organizations.

The studio, located at Covington City Hall at 2194 Emory St. will be open for use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment, according to the policies and procedures manual.

For more information, call 770-385-2000.

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