By Jim Freehan
A Tuesday meeting intended to create a new cable access television station in Lewis County turned into a rancorous argument over programing. Some current cable access producers said they’re getting pushed aside by Hollywood producer Tad Devlin’s proposal to create a new access station in the wake of CCTV’s demise. The meeting at the Chamber’s office in Chehalis was slated to appoint an executive director and citizens’ board of directors for Lewis County Television.
That never happened “We got broadsided,” a clearly frustrated Devlin said after the meeting. Devlin, who produced Disney’s “George of the Jungle” and other movies and television shows, said the channel should have balance between public access, educational and governmental programing. The current programing on CCTV has too many local talk shows, and does not have a diverse mix of programs, he said. “My goal is to see this station become a self sufficient entity,” Devlin said.
But producers and talk shows guests of some CCTV programs told Devlin they’re getting edged out. “You’re hijacking the whole concept of public access TV,” said Chunk Haunreiter, a frequent guest on S.C. Shantz’s weekly call-in program on CCTV. “Public access is local people coming in and putting on a show.” Poor equipment and lack of professionalism exists under CCTV, Devlin said. “We don’t want to be professionals,” Shantz replied. Tom Reber, Centralia city manager, said he has constantly heard complaints about Shantz’s program since he moved into the area. “But the city of Centralia is paying for Shantz to be on,” Reber said. “I have people tell me they like the city council meetings on television, but don’t like all that other stuff.”
Devlin also mentioned that city council and county commission chambers could be outfitted with two remote control cameras for $5,000. He said the group will meet again to formally establish articles of incorporation so the county, the city of Chehalis and the city of Centralia can recognize Lewis County Television as a legitimate representative for community television in the county. The move would allow LCTV the authority to negotiate franchise agreements with TCI. Devlin said he’s also in the process of applying for two grants totaling $400,000. He has set Sept. 15 as the target date to begin LCTV broadcasting Lewis County Television would include the Annberg-CPB Channel, a free channel offering educational programing for schools, colleges and communities. The educational programming would help the county’s literacy rate, along with chonic unemployment and underemployment, Devlin said. “This is the No. 1 thing we can do for economic development in the county,” he said “You can either jump on the band wagon of argue amongst yourselves.”