City mulls options, BITV goes dark

Bainbridge Island Television will fade to black on Dec. 13 after 25 years of community programming.

The city terminated its contract with BITV in an effort to close a deep budget gap and find lower-cost alternatives for 2011-2012.

The city gave BITV 60 days notice with the hope it could renegotiate with BITV or other entities to provide coverage of city meetings within a $50,000 budget. BITV originally asked for $300,000 in 2011 to cover community programming and city meetings.

BITV presented a $138,000 funding proposal to the city, which the city did not approve.

“Given the city’s decision, the extraordinary short timeframe, the current economic climate, and BITV’s financial liabilities, the BITV Board of Directors voted to shut down BITV if the City did not accept our offer,” said Executive Director Scott Schmidt.

BITV has started taking inventory and will wrap up operations before letting all staff go on Dec. 10. All cable-casting on Comcast Channels 12 and 22 will cease Dec. 13.

Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith said the city has been unable to identify a point of contact from the BITV Board of Directors to negotiate logistics.

The city plans to maintain as much channel content as possible, but warned the channel may go dark for a short time until a plan is put into motion.

In the interim as a short-term solution the city has been in communication with Bremerton Kitsap Access Television (BKAT) to provide regional broadcasting on the channels.

Smith said the city is working on an online streaming solution meeting coverage, internally using city staff and equipment. The option may be available by mid-January.

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