The Village of Palmetto Bay’s own special television station, Channel 77, provided by Comcast Cable as a government access channel, is up and running with big improvements to come.
“We have estimated that Phase 1 will be completed within three months, and you’re not going to have to wait three months to see things, as there will be a gradual introduction of the elements,” said Bill Kress, village communications manager. “We are required by government statue to fill a certain number of hours each day. And it all translates into participation for residents.”
Kress explained that they were literally starting from the ground up when they developing, creating and branding a TV station. With a government access channel from Comcast and the help of Alex Schreer, managing partner of ASAP Brands, they are putting together programming for residents.
“The initial phase of this project is to create a brand look and feel above a general public government access station, one that they can use over a period of time,” Schreer said. “We’re looking at this point to create greater transparency for the residents of the Village of Palmetto Bay beyond the current website that they have now.
“Having Channel 77 go into each and every home will allow the residents to get informed of all the government deliberations, activities, services, all the events that are going on within the Village of Palmetto Bay.”
Village staffers found that there already was some excitement generated in the community by putting the winning students’ Arbor Day posters and their names on Channel 77. Count on more involvement and local sponsors providing funding, programming or both to offset costs to the village.
“If one of the current sponsors of events here, Baptist Health, would like to create a program, ‘Your Health,’ for instance, we would be wanting to get the latest in medical news and treatments and anything on pediatrics or fitness programs for seniors,” Schreer said. “Or TotalBank may underwrite ‘Palmetto Bay Today’ with guest interviews, current affairs, services and issues that are affecting the village.”
Kress estimates that there are 3,300 Comcast cable subscribers right now in the village, but that there will be links to Channel 77 on the village website that will make it accessible by live streaming Internet feed to anyone inside or outside Palmetto Bay — indeed, anywhere in the world.
“We want to make sure the whole mission and goal is government access,” Kress said. “We hope to bring more people into the process by sweetening up the pot.” Schreer said that they want to be able to have programs that inform, entertain and engage the local residents on what may be called WBAY or PBTV. They want things that connect people.
“We want local plays or theater plays, productions,” Schreer said. “If it’s Coral Reef High School or one of the middle schools that puts on a play, we want to be able to rebroadcast that play but package it in a way that’s tasteful and where families, grandparents, children all want to gather to watch this. We want citizens to turn on the TV and ‘come home to the Bay’ as we call it.”
According to Kress, Channel 77 is the next natural step in bringing the community together and getting them involved.
“This seems to be the last frontier in our maturing communications effort here at the village,” Kress said. “We’re using every available social media, live streaming video and traditional media. TV was the missing link, so we’re excited we get to do this for the residents.”