Focusing community camera on the Tri-Cities
The convergence of television and the internet has become both a boon and a challenge for a local group producing television shows for and about the Tri-Cities.
Tri-Cities Community Television produces Tri-Cities Profile and Tri-Cities Magazine about local people and events for Shaw TV’s community access channel using Shaw’s equipment. Producer Geoff Scott says people have asked him to set up an internet channel for live streaming of programming but for now, Tri-Cities TV is sticking with cable.
“The audience is out there that is watching community TV,” said Scott. “We’d like to produce programs and bring them to the net.” But he doesn’t think cable companies should be let off the hook from their responsibilities to provide community programming nor does he think it’s wise to migrate such shows entirely to the net because some of the audience would be lost.
In fact, Scott said he would like to see Telus beef up its community programming — it currently accepts submissions for a program called My Vancouver — and would like to see Shaw provide space and equipment for volunteers to produce shows about the Tri-Cities.
For now, people wanting to see highlights of local shows they have missed can go to the Tri-Cities Community Television channel on YouTube while volunteers have to go downtown to Shaw headquarters to borrow equipment.
Over the five years Scott has been helming the local TV initiative, the programming has grown richer and more diverse, with two shows instead of one and more volunteers covering a wider array stories. Tri-Cities Community Television films events the big television media would never cover, such us election all-candidates meetings, fundraising galas, community events and local movers and shakers. It has received kudos from the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce as a Business Excellence finalist in 2009 and received $3,000 in funding support from the Coquitlam Foundation and the city of Port Coquitlam to develop a strategic plan.
Scott says he believes strongly in the importance of community television and he harkens back to the days when Shaw used to train volunteers and produce shows out of community offices throughout the region — including a small studio in Port Coquitlam. Shaw still provides its own community access television programming, trains volunteers and accepts content from groups but those satellite offices were closed in the late 1990s.
Scott thinks the community lost a great resource, noting, “It provided a lot of benefit in the community.”
He tried to fill in the gap by developing local programming with borrowed Shaw equipment (he only recently acquired a video camera for volunteers to use) and has 20 volunteers producing stories and a board of directors to oversee operations.
Scott even quit his job as the head of post production at Columbia Academy in Vancouver two years ago to spend more time on the project.
“There is so much potential,” he said, although admitting the society needs more resources to achieve that potential.
The group is seeking corporate sponsorship to expand local content and people with the technical skills to build a web presence. The society is also losing its donated production and workshop space because Agro Arts in Port Moody, where the group has been operating, has to vacate the space to make way for the Evergreen Line.
He would like to see Shaw offer space in its Port Coquitlam office to the group and provide more equipment, but is pressing ahead with other options because he believes the community likes to see itself and its values reflected on television.
“What kid or adult doesn’t like to see themselves on TV?” he says.
• For more information or to help out, call Scott at 604-931-4714 or 604-996-5714. To see stories posted online, visit TriCitiesTV on YouTube.
Local shows on local TV
Tri-Cities Community Television produces two programs: Tri-Cities Magazine and Tri-Cities Profile. They can be seen at the following times on Shaw:
• Saturdays, 9 p.m.
• Sundays, 7 p.m.
• Wednesdays, 11 a.m.
• Thursdays, 3:30 p.m.
For more about Shaw community programming, visit www.shaw.ca/ShawTV/Vancouver/Volunteer/.