Source: Sherman Publications

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Local cable station may soon relocate to village

by Susan Bromley

March 30, 2011

Ortonville- The local cable station may soon have a new home in the village.

OTV, broadcast on Channel 99 in the village and Brandon Township, must relocate its studio at Brandon High School by the end of June. Village and township officials are currently in negotiations to lease the vacant building at 433 Mill St., owned by David Bonner, to house the cable studio and necessary equipment.

Brandon Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman said the location will fit all the needs of the cable station, and she is also pleased that the site is centralized in the downtown district. It was announced in January that the station would have to move from BHS in order for the school to receive Career and Technical Education grant funds.

Officials plan to sign a lease in May and after some remodeling work, hope to move in equipment in June. Thurman anticipates the annual cost of having the station in the building will be $11,276, paid for by franchise fees allocated to the municipalities by Charter Cable.

"The move should improve quality," Thurman said. "The cable coordinator will be able to boot up the station sooner after power outages in the new location."

Poor quality, particularly audio quality, has plagued the public access station for years. Thurman said a previous amplification problem originating from Oxford has been resolved and sound issues now are usually related to the use of microphones.

Besides signing a lease, the village council and township board are also considering spending $69,601 from the joint cable account for new equipment.

"All the best equipment may not make a difference if the final product is not good quality," said Village Council President Wayne Wills at the council's March 28 meeting. "We've seen poor quality in years past and don't want that to continue. We want to keep Mr. Normand on his toes."

Cable Coordinator Greg Normand was signed in January to a 1-year written contract compensating him $30,000 after more than a decade receiving an annual salary without a contract, and at that time, the township and village approved the transfer of $70,000 in cable franchise fees from a cable fund into the township and village general funds. The balance remaining in the joint cable fund was roughly $144,000.

Combined, the Village of Ortonville and Brandon Township received roughly $140,000 in cable franchise fees from Charter this year, half of which is used to support the local cable access station, OTV, providing a salary for the cable coordinator and wages for Brandon High School students who assist in cable operations, as well as funds to be used for equipment and repairs. The other half is surplus.

Thurman said the fee is stipulated by Charter and the township and village have no control over the amount collected. If Charter were to lose customers, the amount of money the municipalities receive would decrease.