Several months ago Comcast on very short notice dictated to Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, the city’s public access television and technology organization, that local government programming that had long appeared on Channel 10 on Lowell cable would be switched to Channel 99. Although that transition seemed to have gone smoothly, I and many others at LTC saw it as an omen of future dictates to come. As one of several ideas on how to respond to such eventualities, we decided to invite representatives from other local cable access stations in Greater Lowell to meet for a variety of reasons. There is strength in numbers so five or six local cable stations responding to a disagreeable move by Comcast (or any other corporate monolith) might be more effective than just one. There was also interest in sharing cable TV content across municipal boundaries.
The first meeting of this Greater Lowell local access television consortium occurred yesterday at LTC. Representatives from Chelmsford TeleMedia, Billerica Access TV, Dracut Access TV, Tyngsborough Community Television, Westford Community Access TV and the Groton Channel all attended.
The topic that was most discussed was the possibility of creating a weekly regional news magazine program. The consensus was that this would be desirable but that it would also require some pooling of financial and personnel resources so it might not be a goal that is realized quickly. There was also interest, in the meantime, of sharing existing content among the various cable organizations. For example, someone in Chelmsford might already be producing a political/public affairs program that would be of interest to surrounding communities. It seems that the mechanics of getting a program from one public access station onto another’s programing schedule are completely doable. The challenge seems to be how to identify such programs and then ask for them. There are a variety of ways to accomplish that without too much additional effort on anyone’s behalf. So hopefully we here in Lowell in the not too distant future will begin seeing more content produced at neighboring public access stations on our own cable channels.