published Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Council nixes cable channel

by Cliff Hightower


* $215,000: Amount of money freed up for social agencies after the city cut WTCI-TV Channel 45 budget

* $60,000: Original request turned in by WTCI

Source: Chattanooga

The Chattanooga City Council passed Tuesday on funding a TV channel that would have given 24-hour, seven-day a week coverage of city government.

Instead, council members took the $215,000 request from PBS affiliate WTCI-TV Channel 45 and said they would give it to social service agencies.

“I don’t think my constituents would agree to spending money on a request such as this,” Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd told her council colleagues.

The City Council met Tuesday morning for its third workshop on the budget for fiscal year 2011-12, which begins July 1.

Most of the meeting dealt with how to fund several agencies previously funded under the old sales-tax agreement.

Daisy Madison, the city’s chief financial officer, gave council members a draft copy of proposed cuts to some agencies that would help fund newer agencies added from the expiration of the sales-tax agreement.

But council members instead decided to defund the $215,000 government TV channel proposal.

Representatives with WTCI spent an hour last week talking about how the TV station planned to put cameras in the J.B. Collins Conference Room and the main City Council meeting room. They said the cameras could act as security measures and also broadcast all meetings, including those of various city boards.

Representatives for the TV station were not at the council meeting Tuesday.

Madison said after the meeting that the city administration would go back to the drawing board on its agency funding proposal and some of the agencies previously cut may see restored funding.

Dan Bowers, president and CEO of Allied Arts, said he hopes that is the case. His agency was to see a possible $60,000 cut in the latest proposed budget.

“My hope is they come back with something akin to the mayor’s budget,” he said.

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