The future of public access TV in Wilmington - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

The future of public access TV in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - City council members debated the future of public access TV in Wilmington Tuesday night.

Over the past few months, the city has held public comment sessions and asked for feedback via an online survey.

City Manager Sterling Cheatham called public comment "diverse" on the subject.

Councilman Kevin O'Grady said he felt the public was mostly positive on this issue and he believes the city should look into this a bit further.

Councilwoman Margaret Haynes said she thinks the city shouldn't foot the bill for a service that will be seen county-wide. Haynes said it could be better handled by the county and the leaders at that level should take the lead on it.

Currently, Wilmington does not own any open channels to use for public access.

City Attorney Bill Wolak has indicated he expects a lawsuit is the only way to win an unused channel from Time Warner Cable. Legal staff estimated a court case, likely to reach the NC Court of Appeals, to cost roughly $35,000. That does not include the more than $40,000 needed to startup a new channel to be operated by the city or a third-party operator.

Some of the setup cost could be covered by a second win in the courtroom, according to staff.

In the end, council members asked Cheatham and city staff to take a deeper look at the issue and bring back more information to council so that city leaders can make an informed decision on the issue.

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