Medway sets up for public access TV channel

Posted Nov. 12, 2009, at 10:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

MEDWAY, Maine — The town should have its own public access television channel on Polaris Cable by January, an organizer of the local TV effort said Thursday.

A meeting between David Dickey, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and Gordon Wark, general manager at Polaris, is the last major step before Scott Dorr and a small group of other volunteers can start covering Medway, Dorr said.

“The channel has to be under the auspices of the town for liability reasons,” Dorr said Thursday. “Polaris just needs their [town officials’] permission to start on the station.”

Town officials are excited at the prospect of having local programming on Polaris, town Administrative Assistant Kathy Lee said.

“They weren’t looking so much for meetings. They are looking more to see sports events, [townwide celebrations] and other events,” Lee said Thursday of selectmen. “They talked about public interest shows, like a cooking show — things that the public would really want to see.”

Only Dickey’s hectic schedule has kept the meeting from occurring already, Lee said.

Polaris serves Hodgdon, Houlton, Enfield, Howland, Passadumkeag, Medway, Bridgewater, Littleton, Monticello, Danforth, Oakfield, Smyrna, Island Falls and Patten, according to its Web site, polariscable.com.

If Dorr is successful, Medway’s tentatively titled Gateway Television will join Millinocket’s KAT-TV as the only public access broadcasting in the Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes regions. Dorr is among the founders of Katahdin Area Television but left it when he moved out of Millinocket, he said.

“For right now, we’ll use spare stuff we have around my house to get it up and going until we can get the word out,” Dorr said.

He has a computer that he will donate to the effort, while Polaris will set up a transmitter in the town office, Dorr said. He has begun researching grants and other potential funding sources for station revenue.

East Millinocket likely will join Gateway Television, Dorr said, but not immediately. East Millinocket officials have expressed enthusiasm at the thought of public access TV there, but another cable service, Beeline, serves East Millinocket.

The East Millinocket Board of Selectmen indicated some support for the idea during its Sept. 28 meeting, according to draft minutes of the meeting. Chairman Mark Scally said the idea, however, likely wouldn’t be eligible for any immediate funding. The town’s budget already is set.

It would take $2,000 to $9,000 to launch public access TV in East Millinocket and Medway, Dorr has said. Besides grants, the television effort could be paid for by business sponsorships, advertising and private donations.

“Right now we want to set up Medway with their own public access and we can work with Beeline later,” Dorr said. “They are behind it 100 percent, but they don’t know of the logistics yet.”

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