Expanding the Airwaves
Madison TV 15 board sees changes ahead for added programming
New funding would allow more shows on the channel
(December 2020) – There are several ways of keeping up with what is happening in local government in Madison and Jefferson County, Ind. You can read the local newspaper, listen to the radio or actually go to various meetings. Probably the easiest way, if you have local cable, is to turn to Madison TV 15 on Metronet or 377 on Spectrum. The meeting videos also are available on YouTube and Facebook.
The main person in charge of bringing local government videos to the city and county is Aaron Wood, executive director of The Public Video Service Board. Wood started filming government meetings when he was in high school 16 years ago and has been doing it ever since. When asked why he has continued doing this for so long, Wood explains, “I am a big supporter of public media, and I have a passion for producing the best quality video for the public consumption.”
Madison TV 15 Executive Director Aaron Wood is pictured in the studio.
The position is not easy. Most government meetings take place in the evenings and sometimes can last long into the night. “We try to cover all the local meetings that are held by Madison, Hanover and the Jefferson County governments,” Wood said.
The Public Video Service Board is the group charged with overseeing Wood and the service he provides. The board has nine members, three each from Madison, Hanover and Jefferson County. Currently, Madison is represented by Hannah Fagen, Jim Bartlett and Gina Freeman. Hanover is represented by Denise Buxton, with two people to be named. Jefferson County is represented by Peter Woodburn, Stephanie Hellman and Larry Henry, who is the board president. Each person is appointed for a three-year term.
Officials are in the process of reviewing the Interlocal Agreement, including a proposal to reduce the board to seven members – three from the city and two each from Hanover and the county, Wood said.
The finances of this entity is rather unusual. Both the state of Indiana and the federal government imposes taxes on the cable providers, which of course is passed on to their customers. The tax fees are then returned to the local community to help finance local public broadcasting. The total of fees returned to the three local governments was $215,000. Each of the three governments then allocates part of the funds they receive to the Video Board.
This year the budget was $28,000. An increase has been proposed to $42,000 for 2021. With increased funds, Wood said he hopes to purchase equipment that will allow him to broadcast more live events that are off the City Hall site.
The big news from the board is that in the beginning of next year, it plans to start hosting Indiana Public Broadcasting Service. Most of the residents of this area are familiar with PBS and its programming that is sponsored by Kentucky because stations from Louisville dominate this area. While Indiana has had its own form of PBS for many years, it has not been available to this area unless you could get Indianapolis stations.
“This will be a great addition to our program,” Wood said enthusiastically. “Our viewers will now be able to keep up with issues and events around the state. We will also get to use two or three hours of programming from PBS, which will include documentaries.”
At the October monthly meeting, the PBS announcement was the main feature but that was overshadowed by old business. Fagan brought to the board’s attention that the Interlocal Agreement between the three government factions that had been put into action a decade ago had never been properly acted on.
Madison Mayor Bob Courtney was brought into the meeting to explain the city’s position. “When I first came into this office, we had a review of all the agencies that are under the city umbrella. One of the things we discovered was that this board had never been operating correctly, and therefore, the city will not be able to fund it until it takes the appropriate actions.”
After much discussion, the members committed themselves to make this issue their top priority and took steps to begin that process. The PBS programming was put on hold with the goal that it could be ready to go by the first of the year.
To keep up with what is available on the local public TV, visit the website, www.MadisonTV15.com.
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