Our Opinion: Turning point for JCTV

News Tribune editorial

If Jefferson City officials pull the plug on their public access television channel, JCTV, no one can accuse them of acting prematurely.

The City Council on Monday will begin budget discussions, and eliminating the city’s $165,000 annual contribution to JCTV is on the table.

The city’s public access channel became a reality after the council, in 1988, approved a one-year, $50,000 contract with Lincoln University to operate the station.

The vision was both exuberant and ambitious.

The city would offset is costs with franchise fees paid by the cable provider.

Lincoln University would be positioned to use the channel as an incubator to train students in its communications program.

Community members would seize opportunities to create vibrant, interesting local programming.

Viewership would increase as residents tuned in to be entertained and informed – in part by watching live telecasts of City Council meetings.

Popularity would prompt sponsors or other private funding to aid channel operations.

That bold vision, however, failed to materialize.

Over the years, the city’s cost has escalated to and now is more than triple the initial annual cost. Private sponsorships and/or donations have not been forthcoming.

City Administrator Nathan Nicholas said recently: “There were also great plans that JCTV would get out into the community and be a true community voice. Again, this never really materialized.”

When efforts were made to bolster JCTV in 2006, we wrote in this forum: “JCTV’s potential never has been realized (but) it deserves at least a fighting chance to become a robust medium in our community.”

In the past six years, we have seen little fight to improve JCTV.

The time has come to either turn up the effort or switch off the channel.

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