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Local public access TV promoted
BCTV FacebookSS
BCTV already has its own Facebook page.
Screenwriter and producer Victor Pisano, a part-time resident of Ford Plantation in Richmond Hill, spoke to members of the Richmond Hill Rotary Club on Thursday in an effort to gain support for establishing public access television channels in Bryan County.
Pisano believes public access television will be an asset to Bryan County.
“We want a community that has an identity, and the only way Bryan County and Richmond Hill can reach a new level is through communication. There’s something about access television that brings a community together,” he said.
If realized, Bryan County TV will allow public access to three non-commercial cable channels. Each channel will be earmarked for one of three categories: local government, education, and community public access.
These channels would be reserved for non-commercial use by the communities in Bryan County.
Local government meetings, high school sporting events, and community coverage would be available on these channels, Pisano said. Locals would also be able to broadcast their own shows.
Use of the access channels would be granted on a first-come, first-served basis, and subject only to obscenity and libel laws.  
“The most important part of public access is that it’s your neighbors on television. These aren’t mass-produced shows. They’re local,” explained Pisano.
An ad hoc committee of Bryan County residents and business professionals has been established to get the ball rolling.
Funding for the project would come from money that local cable providers are required to pay local governments. Federal law mandates that cable providers must pay “not more than 5 percent” of their subscription fees to the community in which they operate.
Local governments can, in turn, use these funds for public access television.
According to Pisano, the projected start-up budget for Bryan County T.V. would be around $150,000. He said feess paid by Comcast Cable to local governments would more than cover those costs. Currently, the cable company pays more than $300,000. There are about 5,000 subscribers in Bryan County.
Pisano stated that Comcast is on board with the project. The company has already designated three channels for public use.
Public access channels are available only from cable providers, and Pisano said adding public access may give them an advantage over their satellite competitors.
A form of public access television is already available in Pembroke through the Pembroke Telephone Company. It provides coverage of local sports, government, and community events.
If the public access channels become a reality, the structure will be modeled after the public access television on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Pisano’s home.
He said the two communities are similar in size and in the amount of money available to fund public access TV.
Martha’s Vineyard Television has agreed to consult with Bryan County for the first year of planning and operation.  And Bryan County TV already has a Facebook page.
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