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Access Framingham looking to upgrade

Posted by John Swinconeck  July 25, 2013 10:43 AM

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Access Framingham, the town’s public access cable station, wants to make upgrades that include new studio space and high definition programming, Executive Director Bill McColgan told selectmen on Tuesday.

McColgan’s meeting with selectmen occurred as the town begins preliminary discussions with Comcast to renew the cable provider’s 10-year franchise in 2016.

Audrey Hall, host of “The Audrey Hall Show,” told selectmen cable access programming was vital in order to disseminate local-oriented information throughout the town.

She urged selectmen to give McColgan a voice as the town begins renegotiating contracts with Comcast. “I’ve never seen a group do more with a dollar than Access Framingham,” she said.

Access Framingham is an independent, nonprofit organization funded by franchise fees from Framingham’s three cable providers–in addition to Comcast, Framingham has franchise agreements with RCN and Verizon.

“We are not asking the town for any money,” McColgan said. “Franchise fees from the three cable companies continue to be vital to our survival.”

Access Framingham operates within an annual operating budget of between $250,000 and $300,000.

There are 3.5 paid staff positions, in addition to Access Framingham members who volunteer time to produce original programming that includes public affairs, public service announcements, broadcasts of local concerts, news, and talk shows, among others.

In an interview on Wednesday, McColgan said Access Framingham would like to move out of its space at Fuller Middle School, which he said was “no longer sufficient for our needs.” However, McColgan said there is no timetable on when it would move.

“It’s a long-term process to find a place that’s appropriate,” he said.

McColgan also said Access Framingham needs begin broadcasting in High Definition in order to remain relevant and serve the community. The station has the technology for HD broadcasts, however it needs access to HD channels through the cable companies.

“The time of Standard Definition is fast drawing to a close,” McColgan said, and Access Framingham risks being marginalized.

McColgan told selectmen that Access Framingham also needs “capital dollars” in order to modernize their infrastructure, as well as the ability to broadcast high-quality live transmissions of events such as concerts.

Access Framingham is available on Channel 3 for RCN customers, Channel 9 for Comcast customers, and Channel 43 for Verizon.

Contact John Swinconeck at johnswinc@gmail.com. Follow @johnswinc on Twitter.

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