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Citizen committee opposes move



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July 10, 2013 - A committee overseeing Independence Television (ITV) public access station said Independence Township moved too hastily on a plan to move the channel to Clarkston High School (CHS).

"Individual citizen members of the ITV Citizen Public Access Committee voiced concerns with the proposal at the June 18, 2013 Independence Township Board meeting and yet the supervisor has chosen to proceed with haste," wrote the committee members.

ITV's Committee members said the new agreement with the school does not include a plan to improve the quality of the public access channels. Committee members have also expressed other concerns over the move.

Rick Gutowski said PEG fees should not be used to supplement education, and if students want to learn programming than classes should be scheduled at ITV's renovated studio on Maybee Road.

According to a letter drafted by the Commission, "ITV volunteers and employees will access CHS in order to use the studio, editing equipment, and cameras and the hours of operation of ITV will be changed."

Committee member Jay Clark said he has safety concerns over moving ITV to CHS. "I have security concerns for the school because of the increase in access to the school who are not necessarily students, faculty or staff," he said.

Township Supervisor Pat Kittle said security will be even tighter when the studio is moved to CHS because someone will walk visitors to the studio.

Committee members said several questions like these remain unanswered.

Jay Clark said some programming on public access may not be appropriate for students. "ITV as well as neighboring studios have received visits and material from white supremacist groups and others whose presence in a school setting could be controversial at best," he said.

Residents will also suffer from a lack of access to the studio when the move occurs, said Namowicz.

"It has been 10 years since Independence Township taxpayers have gotten what they are paying for," he said. "Clarkston High has nighttime functions three to four nights a week. Parking and access will be crowded and tumultuous , discouraging adult participation."

The committee also said the move will create other undue burdens to those wanting to use public access equipment. "ITV volunteers and employees will access CHS in order to use the studio, editing equipment, and cameras and the hours of operation of ITV will be changed," wrote the committee.

Gutowski said a lot of progress has been made over the last year, updating the Maybee Road studio, purchasing equipment, and hiring Program Manager Joe Barnhart.

Namowicz fears the move will cause a backslide in progress, citing how the CHS educational channel is not up to par.

Namowicz said a lack of quality work at CHS was evident during a June 24 meeting when he strained to hear what was being said during the meeting. "I strained to listen, and looked around the room in frustration," he said. He added that the room was full of speakers and expensive audio equipment that was not being used properly.

"The schools have spent 10 years with the education channel in stagnation, dormant. It is long past time for the township to bring it back where it belongs, to the PEG studio on Maybee Road. This is a glaring reason why this agreement is not a good idea," he said.

Staff writer
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