Mount Carmel seeks programs for public access channel

Jeff Bobo • Jan 20, 2008 at 12:00 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — Mount Carmel leaders can’t promise they’ll make you a star, but they can get you on TV if you’re willing to volunteer time toward creating programming for the town’s public access TV station.

Since last March, Mount Carmel has controlled public access Channel 16 for Charter Cable customers in Mount Carmel, Church Hill, part of Surgoinsville and much of eastern Hawkins County.

It’s currently used mainly as a message board for Mount Carmel announcements and a calendar of events. But Alderman Rick Gabriel and other town leaders have a vision for this channel, and they’re asking the public to help make this vision come true.

“Our public access channel is a tremendous resource for promoting our communities, our businesses, and for informing and entertaining our residents,” said Gabriel, who will be chairing the newly formed Public Access Cable TV Committee. “It’s public access, and it should be for the public and by the public. That’s why we’re asking for the public’s help.

“We want to present programming produced in our communities for our communities.”

The committee’s inaugural meeting is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. in the Mount Carmel City Hall boardroom. Videography enthusiasts interested in producing programming for the channel are encouraged to attend this meeting.

The committee is interested in meeting people willing to volunteer their time to film school sporting events; school concerts or other school events; community festivals and parades; church events; city council meetings; chamber of commerce promotions; or any other type of community interest programming suitable for all ages.

The committee is also interested in hearing new ideas for potential programming.

Mount Carmel Police Chief Jeff Jackson noted that the operative word is “volunteer” because Mount Carmel doesn’t have any money to spend on this project.

Thus far the police department has taken the lead in the public access TV programming, mainly because Patrolman George Copas has the technical expertise to operate the control panel.

Ideally a volunteer would have the capability of filming and editing their own work, and presenting Copas with the finished product ready to be shown.

Although Mount Carmel’s public access channel is available only to Charter customers in east Hawkins County, Jackson is hoping the channel will include programming from throughout Hawkins County and the region.

“We’re all new at this, and I guess we’re going to learn together,” Jackson said. “But we’ve got all this available air time right now and nothing to put on it. I imagine it’s going to be pretty amateur to start with, and hopefully get better as we go along.

“Amateur or not, people will still enjoy seeing their neighbors and relatives on TV.”

Mount Carmel Mayor Gary Lawson acquired the public access channel at no cost to the town during Charter’s franchise renewal negotiations last year. The town had previously budgeted about $4,000 annually to mail out a community newsletter several times throughout the year.

Last year that $4,000 was used to purchase the control panel, and the newsletter was discontinued in favor of the TV message board.

Lawson said he’s enthusiastic about the addition of locally produced programming on the channel.

“This can be a really good exposure for our town and for the whole region, but we need a lot of help to make it happen,” Lawson said. “If you own a video camera, we need your help.”

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