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Paying for public access

Open Stage Media asks Glenville to help cover expenses

Glenville is being asked to pay $5,000 a year for a broadcast service the town has yet to fully receive, and town officials are steamed because they feel they are being singled out to financially support a public access network they had no say in choosing.

We have been treated unfairly and our residents can't currently see our board meetings, and I believed they've been disenfranchised from their right to public access, said Glenville Supervisor Christopher Koetzle at the Town Board Meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19. "We are not in the business of just handing out money because someone needs it, someone wants it, or because someone thinks it is really fair if we did it."

A vote last February by the Schenectady City Council allowed Open Stage Media to take over SACC-TV, which had been broadcasting town meetings on channel 16. Following the switch, Open Stage started using all three public access channels (16, 17 and 18) and moved government and education access to 17 and 18, stations with a signal based out of Saratoga County that could not be accessed by Glenville residents. As a result Time Warner subscribers in town have not been able to watch Town Board and County Legislature meetings for months. To move the transmission infrastructure is estimated to cost $12,000, a fee the town said it is willing to pay.

What town officials are balking at is that Open Stage Media, operated out of Proctors, is asking the town to help fund operational expenses of the entity, which manages the public, governmental and educational programming on Time Warner Cable for municipalities in Schenectady County.

Currently, the City of Schenectady is the only municipality funding the entity.

"In good faith we offered to make that $12,000 investment [for the transmission line], even though we didn't have to do that with SACC-TV and no other town in the county has to do that," said Koetzle. "Open Stage Media came back and said, 'No that doesn't count. We want operational money.'"

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