By Jim Feehan
A Hollywood producer wants to breathe life into Centralia’s beleaguered cable access channel. Tad Devlin, who lives in Chehalis. told city and county leaders at Saturday’s tri-agency meeting “the potential is absolutely awesome” for community access television. “CCTV is following a curve of cable access channels,” Devlin said. “Five, six years into operation, it comes into disfavor among its audience. We are at that point.”
The producer of such movies as “George of the Jungle,” “When A Man Loves a Woman,” and “Sleeping With the Enemy” recommended:
• Dissolving the existing CCTV organization, and changing the name to Lewis County Television.
• Urging community leaders to visit the cable access station in Olympia (Thurston County Television).
• Forming a citizens’ board of directors “empowered to run the station,” taking it out the hands of a city government.
“I would gladly serve for $1 a year as executive director,” Devlin said. “And. if you don’t like what you see in one year, shut it down.”
The channel could provide public access, educational telecasts, city and county government programming. Internet links also would be available, he said.
“This is such a powerful medium, and we’re not taking advantage of it,” Devlin said.
Lee Coombs, CCTV chairman, said: “If we don’t pick up this thrown ball, we’ll cease to exist.”
Last week, the Centralia City Council approved an agreement with CCTV to continue funding the public access station at $12,000 this year, down from $30,000 in 1998.
CCTV’s current programming drew some criticism from elected officials Saturday.
In a prepared statement, read by Joanne Schwartz of the city of Chehalis, Lewis County Sheriff John McCroskey said: My only reluctance to use our local channel is the public’s perception that it is mainly conspiracy- and rumor-oriented programming.” Chehalis Mayor Bob Spahr said: “People have told me they’d rather watch C-SPAN than Schantz and Haunreiter.” S.C. Schantz and Chuck Haunreiter host a weekly call-in program on CCTV.
“I can understand how there’s not a great following for some of the programming on CCTV” Devlin said. “This is a good chance to serve a serious deficiency in our community.”
Devlin said the public access channel’s educational programming would better prepare Lewis County children for emerging high-technology jobs of the future.
“Let’s not cut off our children’s future,” Devlin said.
Dr. Jackson Holland, a Centralia physician, agreed.
“The prospects for our youngsters has declined. There’s more chaos in our homes, and Lewis County is a breeding ground for drug activity.” Holland said.
“The perception is we’re not a desirable place for industry to locate,” he said. Holland said the cable access channel could serve as a modern version of the I 8th century Boston Commons, where ideas and community dialogue flourished. “It’s time for a change,” he said.