by Lisa Sorg
Durham County officials have authorized $55,000 to partially fund the public access channel and the Durham City Council could vote to match those funds next month, according to the Durham Committee for Community Media.
The money was already allocated to the channel in a previous contract with Time Warner Cable, but the funds needed to be released.
City Manager Tom Bonfield is reportedly recommending the City Council approve matching funds. Council will discuss the issue in March.
Without funding, the public access portion of the PEG (public, education, government) channels would have been discontinued. Community media activists forestalled a Dec. 31, 2008, deadline to keep programming on the air.
On Feb. 16, Chad Johnston of The Peoples Channel and Peter Skillern of the Community Reinvestment Association of NC met with Durham City and County Attorneys and staff to discuss a contract with The Peoples Channel to continue public access television in Durham.
Provided the City Council approves its portion of the funds and a contract is hammered out with The Peoples Channel, Johnston and Co. will work with Time Warner on the logistics of taking over public access operations. The switchover is projected to occur sometime in mid-April.
Equipment for the channel and a feed into Time Warner’s network will be housed at a location on East Geer Street. A transition committee of community producers will work with The Peoples Channel on the logistics of drop offs, formats, schedules, etc.
In May, organizers hope to hold community meetings about overarching issues, such as its scope and goals, of the Durham Media Center.