Town to get equipment and channel
By Mike Melanson
PLYMPTON — Plympton selectmen planned to consider voting when they meet Monday Aug. 11 to write a letter to support, in principle, forming a non-profit community TV corporation in partnership with Carver and Halifax.
Selectmen on Wednesday Aug. 6 met with members of the Carver and Halifax boards of selectmen, the Halifax Cable Advisory Committee and officials with Carver Community Access Television to discuss a proposed framework for a shared public, educational and government access corporation and studio.
The framework was drafted by Peter Epstein, an attorney who negotiated Halifax’s license renewal with Comcast and has been hired by Plympton to negotiate a similar agreement with the cable company.
Under the proposed framework, residents of Carver, Halifax and Plympton would have equal studio rights.
The shared access corporation would operate three public, educational and government access channels. Each town would have its own educational and government access channels. The towns would share a public access channel.
Halifax would get satellite location equipment, including playback for Halifax educational and government programming, the control unit for robotic cameras for selectmen coverage, and camcorders. The equipment would be the corporation’s responsibility.
The towns would have proportional representation on the corporation’s board of directors. Carver would have three to five directors. Halifax would have two or three directors. Plympton would have one or two directors.
The joint access corporation would continue to operate from its current studio location at Carver Middle High School at first, subject to permission from the Carver school superintendent. It could stay there, or relocate to a mutually agreeable new location in Carver if approved by a super-majority vote of the directors.
Selectman John Henry said he opposed the merger.
The corporation would be funded by surcharges on Comcast subscriber bills.
Henry said he is not sure where selectmen get the authority to add the surcharge without people being able to opt out.
“Town Meeting should fund it, not cable subscribers,” he said.
Henry looked at his cable bill and said, “Too much money.”
Russo said he had some of the same philosophical concerns, but selectmen were assured by counsel that federal statutes allow it.
“I’m ready to go full speed ahead,” he said. “I’m just one, but I hope we can move forward with all due haste.”
After the meeting, Selectman Colleen Thompson said, “It’s important that our public meetings are televised for those who can’t get to them.”