For residents who can’t get enough of watching city politics in action, Berkeley Community Media is expanding its cable access service to Channel 78 beginning Jan. 1.
On Channel 78, viewers can expect more civic announcements, an expanded community bulletin board and, eventually, additional city meetings.
Berkeley Community Media has aired live coverage of City Council, Board of Education and Rent Stabilization Board meetings on Channel 25 since 1994. Now BCM, a nonprofit funded predominantly by the city, is expanding to accommodate more educational and local programming currently competing for air time on Channel 25.
“We are very excited about the program flexibility we will have with the new channel,” said Berkeley Community Media Executive Director Brian Scott. “Now we will be able to expand city government coverage on Channel 78 and present more consistent public programming on Channel 25.”
In addition to the public meetings BCM now airs, Channel 78 will carry more public service announcements, meeting agendas and Berkeley job announcements.
in case of a disaster much quicker than before because of a new Web-based electronic messaging system that will allow emergency information to be typed directly onto the broadcast image.
“With this new system city officials sitting in their offices can reach viewers immediately,” he said. “Before it could take up to an hour or longer from the time the station collected the information from the city, formatted it and aired it.”
The city is currently negotiating with BCM to arrange for additional city meetings to be aired on Channel 78.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington said he would like to see expanded coverage of commission and board meetings. “It would be great to air as many meetings as we can afford to,” he said. “A lot of people have expressed an interest in seeing the Zoning Adjustment Board and Planning Commission meetings.”
Scott said he is working to include the Californian Channel, which covers the state legislature, to Channel 78’s programming.
“I think it’s really important to have access to the California Channel for people who want to keep up with state government,” said Worthington, who said he now watches it on Channel 26. Worthington added that Channel 26 programming is in flux, and it would be important for Channel 78 to take over the California Channel programming if Channel 26 drops the coverage.
Berkeley Communications Manager Stephanie Lopez said the city is looking forward to increased opportunity to share city information with the public, for example, the city will be able to have more time to let the public know about its information line – 981-CITY.She said city’s information line has been an excellent feature to help the public navigate through the various city departments.
“It has been a very popular information source without much advertising,” she said. “We get over 4,000 calls a month for all kinds information from where to pay parking tickets to how to seismically retrofit your home.”
Scott said Channel 25 will continue to air popular community shows such as the music program “Sound Gallery,” the talk show “What’s This” and the movie review program “Trailer Trash.”
For more information about Berkeley Community Media programming or how to get video projects aired on Channel 25 call 848-2288 or visit www.betv.org.