Letters to the Editor

BIFD relationship with BITV is not tainted | Letters | Oct. 30

I am writing to clarify information recently distributed by Mr. James Olsen in a Letter to the Editor regarding the fire department’s BITV relationship.

The BITV invoices referenced by Mr. Olsen reflect $9,166.65 for news coverage over an 18-month period (July 2008 through December 2009).

One of the things that the public has asked for is financial transparency and communication. The department makes efforts to communicate with the public in many ways, including through use of both print and television media, as well as through banners, movie slides, and community meetings.

BITV was one of the avenues to inform the public about what we do (training, education, responses, etc) due to its cost efficiency. As a comparison, one multi-page newsletter-style mailer can cost about $13,000 to the department and is limited with regard to timeliness of reporting. 

The department’s agreement with BITV includes guaranteed news story slots that may be utilized. The department has requested stories to provide general department information about who we are and what we do (volunteer recruitment and training, live fire training, emergency medical training); as well as to educate the public on safety issues.

We believe utilizing BITV is a fiscally responsible choice when compared to the alternative of solely print media distribution. 

The department’s agreement with BITV does not dictate their “slant” on a story. The agreement does state that we can request that they run a story to provide information to the public, and we have done that. However, we do not write the story. Any editorial comments during a particular news story are at the judgment of BITV.

The department had been working with BITV for over a year prior to the EMS levy ballot measure. 

The department’s effort to provide information to the public is part of our primary mission of preventing emergencies through education. Additionally, transparency within government operations has been a repeated request of the community members.

BITV has provided the department with an opportunity to communicate with the public in both of these areas at a minimal cost.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the department at 842-7686.

Carol Mezen,

Business administrator

B.I. Fire Department

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