2016-05-05 / Letters

Public access officials deserve kudos

To the editor:

Having read last week’s letter by Toni Sipka of Biddeford in reference to Biddeford Public Access TV, it brought back many memories of my acquaintances in the public access world.

I knew the late Toni Alaimo for over 40 years between radio and public access TV. His tenure in the business was above and beyond his talent. We had many conversations of the reason and necessity of public access cable. It does provide a service that is not available in the public media: i.e. radio, TV, newspapers.

Being chairman of the Scarborough Access TV channel and Scarborough Educational Channel in the 1990s, I know the value of access television. We were the first in the state in many areas of public access broadcasting. Yes, it was run by volunteers with restricted budgets. However, the people in charge were always generous in regards to spending the necessary monies to operate and improve the system.

At that time, negotiations with the cable company for a franchise agreement became heated at times. Our leverage was the franchise fees the town received from cable subscribers. Their leverage was we wanted too much updated equipment to continue our programming on the two channels. The final result was a compromise to benefit both entities.

As most towns and cities do, the franchise fees paid to the town by the cable companies go directly to the main coffers. There are a very few towns’ cable fees that go directly to the cable operators. Therefore cable channel budgets are scrutinized by town and city government which is not always good. Some do go into a “black hole.”

Kudos to Steve Pulos and Steve Doplin for continuing to produce and run the Biddeford Access TV Channel. Try to keep up the good work.

Bob Osborn Saco

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