Channel 23 probably will remain only cable

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

[03/14/03]Mayor Laurence Leyens said Thursday sending “Channel 23” signal over the airwaves in addition to cable lines would probably be too expensive.

Vicksburg Video Inc. made the channel available for city programming two years ago. During the recording of the weekly city board interview program called “Speak Up,” Leyens said broadcasting TV 23 across open airwaves would cost $250,000.

He said the amount was more than the administration had planned to spend, but that it would make it accessible to people without cable.

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“That’s a real tough question,” Leyens said.

City officials also said Thursday that TV 23 cameras and staff will remain in the supervisor and school board meetings with the blessing of those bodies. Leyens had said a month ago that he had been too aggressive by pushing the cameras into the meetings even though the Mississippi Open Meetings Law allows anyone to attend and record public meetings.

Warren County District 4 Supervisor Richard George, president of the board of supervisors, said his board has no problem with the TV audience looking in.

“The only stipulation that we have is that they don’t disrupt the meetings and don’t edit the tapes,” George said.

“I’m glad these organizations have said they still want it,” Leyens said.

TV 23 was offered as a community service by the cable TV company during the closing months of the administration of former Mayor Robert Walker. It was initially operated on a shoestring, but today operates on a $200,000 annual budget. That amount doesn’t include moving city meetings into a room in City Hall Annex that is essentially a TV studio.

Vicksburg Video, which reaches about 12,000 homes in the city and county, offered a channel to public schools when the offer was made to the city. The schools, however, declined.

Channel 23 is non-commercial, but it should not be confused with public access channels because its programming is directed by the city board. In addition to meetings and forums, Channel 23 offers informational programming on city projects and problems and shows live and taped parades, school programs and ceremonies.