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Time Warner change will end some local programming

Several area cities rely on service to air government meetings and more.

The June closing of Time Warner Cable’s public access playback facility will leave some local communities with one less option when it comes to communicating with their residents and showing government meetings.

Effective June 3, the cable company’s Leo Street facility in Dayton will stop taking public access content to be aired on its government, education or public access television channels, according to Mike Pedelty, Time Warner Cable’s director of field public relations for the Midwest.

“We’re no longer required to manage access playback facilities, but we’ve continued to operate a facility in Dayton for several years. So the equipment is getting really out-dated, obsolete and frequently malfunctions,” Pedelty said. “The cost that’s needed to upgrade it is prohibitive.”

Pedelty declined to say how much it costs TWC to operate the playback facility.

The communities affected by the change include Clayton, Huber Heights, Vandalia, New Carlisle, Trotwood, Springfield, Brookville, Enon, Beavercreek, Xenia and Fairborn. All of them currently submit videos of meetings or community events to be aired on Time Warner’s public access channels.

“The change only impacts those that were providing content that we would play back through this facility,” Pedelty said.

Trotwood City Manager Mike Lucking said that currently Trotwood does not post online videos of city meetings or events.

“This action is disappointing due to the fact that it eliminates a communication tool that we have utilized with our citizens,” Lucking said.

Vandalia won’t be able to televise council meetings or its locally-produced news programs, said Rich Hopkins, Vandalia city spokesman.

“Our primary concern is in finding another way to deliver this important programming to the people of Vandalia,” Hopkins said. “We currently do not offer our council meeting through our You Tube channel, but I suspect that will change soon. We will also likely post video of these meetings to our website.”

Richard Rose, Clayton city manager, said, “We currently provide access to view our past council meetings on the city website and are reviewing options as to our ability to provide a similar service after the June cut-off date.”

Time Warner is still trying to figure out what will be shown on their educational, public and government channels in the areas that will be affected by the June 3 shutdown of the access playback facility.

The communities affected have the option of contacting The Miami Valley Communications Council, 1195 E. Alex Bell Road in Centerville or DATV, 280 Leo St., for assistance in broadcasting their local programming or televising their community events.

The MVCC currently produces playback shows of city and school district meetings for the communities of Centerville, Germantown, Kettering, Miamisburg, Moraine, Oakwood, Springboro and West Carrollton, according to John Weithofer, MVCC’s executive director.

The June 3 change does not affect the local programs that are produced by the MVCC in Centerville, according to Weithofer. However, the MVCC programming appears simultaneously on the same Time Warner channels that will be discontinued, according to Weithofer.

DATV also shares some its programming on some of the same Time Warner channels, but the city of Dayton will not be affected by the June change, according to Steve Ross, DATV’s executive director.

“We are sickened by the fact that they are no longer going to support the public, education and government channels that support those areas,” Ross said. “Anything that we can do to help eleviate some of those pressures, we would certainly step forward.”

The decision to use MVCC or DATV would be up to the communities affected by the change.

“Another option we have is to work cooperatively with other communities to purchase equipment and operate a television channel,” Hopkins said.

When asked if the televised service would be missed by Clayton residents, Rose said, “That remains to be seen and will be one of the factors considered in reviewing our options.”

So far, the change will affect one employee, who Pedelty said will have the opportunity to work elsewhere in the company.

While Time Warner’s decision to close the Leo Street facility will impact a number of communities in Montgomery and Clark counties in playing back content to cable subscribers, it will not have any impact in the Hamilton or Middletown areas.

“All of our content playback is done in Middletown,” said Tyrone Thomas, executive director of TV Middletown.

Thomas also said that many people are watching TV Middletown programming on demand via the internet.

“This is news to me (about the Leo Street facility),” said Steve Colwell, TV Hamilton’s executive director, said. “However, this will not affect TV Hamilton…”

Like Middletown, Colwell said once TV Hamilton content goes to Blue Ash, TWC can send it anywhere as was done in January 2002 when President George W. Bush visited Hamilton to sign the No Child Left Behind legislation into law.

Both TV Hamilton and TV Middletown are nonprofit organizations that raises funds and receives grants for their operations.

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