Bainbridge Island may get new public access TV channel

Bainbridge Island’s own cable channel, BITV, faded to black two years ago.

Now city officials are sending signals that a new channel could be coming online.

City Manager Doug Schulze briefed the city council at its Feb. 13 meeting on his aims to establish an island cable channel —especially since money for a public, education and government channel has been piling up.

“With the Comcast franchise agreement, there is a portion charged to each subscriber on a monthly basis for a community channel,” Schulze explained.

Even though Bainbridge has had no local channel over the past two years, the fee included in cable bills has remained intact.

“The funds have been accumulating, it’s around $95,000,” Schulze said.

The money could be used for purchasing new equipment, Councilwoman Debbi Lester noted at the meeting.

The island’s former public access channel ceased operating in December 2010 after 25 years of shining through island TV screens. BITV has since been a nostalgic thought for islanders.

When the city terminated its contract with BITV, the managing organization of the channel, it was unable to afford the $138,000 price tag, and hoped to get the service for $50,000 to manage community programming and coverage of city council meetings.

When BITV’s channels 12 and 22 went dark on Bainbridge Island, the Bremerton-Kitsap Access Television channel took over broadcasting the city council’s Wednesday meetings.

Schulze said that a new channel for community and governmental programming is possible, but he first will take the matter up with the three other governments on the island; the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, the Bainbridge Island School District, and the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks & Recreation District.

Schulze said that he will discuss the issue at an intergovernmental meeting in either March or May.


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