TV station tour meant to raise awareness of funding woes

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 | 9:25 p.m. CDT; updated 3:51 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — In order to plead their case for funding, Columbia Access Television volunteers gave Columbia City Council members Jerry Wade, Karl Skala and Barbara Hoppe a tour of their facility on Tuesday night. The council is set to vote next week on a drafted ordinance that may determine Columbia Access Television (CAT TV) funding.

Beth Pike, a member of the Columbia Cable Task Force, showed the council members the aging audio and video equipment — some of which dates back as far as the 1950s — and the potential for growth within CAT TV’s spacious Stephens College facilities.

“They really had some foresight when they built this, but unfortunately the equipment is outdated,” Pike told the council members.

Pike said that if CAT TV is able to expand its resources, there could be possibility for growth in partnerships with local schools.

“Before you can develop partnerships you need to update your studio,” councilman Skala said in agreement.

CAT TV has been surviving on $30,000 a year from Mediacom since its inception in 2004. Because CAT TV is still waiting for an installment of $10,000 from May, the station is down to its last $2,000.

“Right now, I figure we can last for about a month, and then I guess we’ll go off,” CAT TV treasurer Steve Hudnell said.

CAT TV volunteers made an appeal at the August 20 council meeting to be placed on the fiscal 2008 budget because of the uncertainty over whether they’ll receive any other funding.

“If we can’t get properly funded, we just can’t do it,” Pike said.

Volunteers told Wade that their dream is to become a community media center.

“The whole concept of this is to be able to service the community,” CAT TV board president Christine Gardener said.

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