Use of DeKalb County’s cable television station is the latest skirmish between county commissioners and the chief executive officer’s administration.
“The origin of [DeKalb County Television] was to show DeKalb County citizens the ongoings of day-to-day government in DeKalb County, the decisions that we’re making that affect their tax dollars, policy decisions, and the budget decisions as well,” said Commissioner Lee May. “It seems to have dwarfed into more of a political channel.”
The commissioners’ finance, auditing and budget committee, chaired by May, had asked that the committee’s meetings about the 2012 budget be televised on, DCTV which is shown on Comcast channel 23.
The committee has been meeting weekly since the beginning of the year reviewing CEO Burrell Ellis’ proposed 2012 budget. Two of the meetings, which were scheduled to last all day, would have required 13 hours of recording time, according to Burke Brennan, the county’s chief communications officer.
“It wasn’t feasible for us to tape it in its entirety the way it was asked to be done,” Brennan said.
“A production of that magnitude, particularly in a room where it’s not wired for live recording, is problematic.”
The production would take “a lot of man hours, a lot of costs and a lot of resources in every scenario to get it on the air,” Brennan said.
“And then, once you’ve got it on the air, you’ve got 13 hours of a budget committee meeting,” Brennan said. “A 13-hour block …would blow out all of the rest of the programming, including [Board of commissioners’] meetings if we were to rotate it. And it was extremely short notice, too.”
Brennan provided The Champion a memo to him from Diamond Lewis, director of the CEO’s Office of Cable Operations, in which Lewis said DCTV does not have adequate staffing or programming capabilities to record and broadcast the committee meetings.
Lewis stated that it would take 56 hours to prepare the footage for airing and DCTV’s entire four-person fulltime staff would be tied up for two days.
“This would adversely affect the station’s ongoing operations and duties,” Lewis stated.
May has introduced a resolution to “establish some uniformity” in the use of DCTV.
This is the second time the resolution has come up. After it was introduced the first time, May said it was tabled after assurances from the administration that changes would be made.
“Things have seemed to get worse with DCTV,” May said. “One [show] that dwarfs all the other showings is Ellis’ 2012 State of the County address [which] shows 60 times a week,” May said.
In comparison, the Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting is shown six times weekly, according to the DCTV schedule.
Brennan said the administration will review DCTV’s schedule.
“I didn’t know [Ellis’ address] was running that frequently,” Brennan said. “The shorter a program is, the easier it is to schedule. It may be running like that as a matter of convenience because it’s such a short program. That’s one thing that we will look at.”
May said he wanted input from the commissioners and Ellis’ administration.
“We’re not looking to take over. We’re looking to have a balanced approach to what is aired.”