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Community access inaccessible
[November 29, 2012]

Community access inaccessible

Nov 28, 2012 (The Laurinburg Exchange - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Scotland County events usually broadcast on cable Channel 2 have been replaced by static this week.

Officials confirmed that Scotland County's community access channel will be dark for the next few weeks after an equipment failure.

Paid for by the county, the school board and the city of Laurinburg, the community access channel is operated by Sean Moore of St. Andrews University.

According to Moore, the station will be down for "up to two weeks or more" while the device responsible for running the programming is shipped to its manufacturer for repair. The device is still under warranty.

County Manager Kevin Patterson said that any costs incurred in the repairs would be "nominal compared with the cost of purchasing all new equipment." The non-functioning part has already been sent to the manufacturer and will take two to three days to be fixed and returned to Laurinburg, Moore said in an e-mail. He also anticipated that the process could be delayed because of the holidays.

"Re-installation of the device and the installation of other products will have to be planned with the Imagenation Systems from Raleigh," Moore's e-mail continued.

The city, county and school system are all equal partners in the channel, with each paying approximately $7,000 per year to St. Andrews University for its operation, Patterson said. The channel broadcasts local government meetings, church services and community announcements.

Moore assists in the recording of local meetings and, when class is in session, uses the channel as an instructional tool for St. Andrews students.

Also students from the communications program at Scotland High School participate in the recording of meetings of the school board.

City and county staff have yet to receive any calls from locals viewers about the status of the channel, which has been out since Thanksgiving Day.

"I would think that at least people who air programs might call and ask, but I haven't received any phone calls," said County Clerk Ann Kurtzman.

Kurtzman said that the channel is an important resource for those who cannot attend civic meetings.

"It gives them an option to stay connected to their elected officials," Kurtzman said. "It's essential." Echoing that thought, Laurinburg Councilman Kenton Spencer said that the channel increases transparency in government.

"I think that more transparency and more access is crucial to a vibrant and operative democracy," Spencer said.

City council meetings are also put online for viewing.

"We should put as much as we can online and on TV -- but we don't want it to be so boring as CSPAN." Spencer said that he wished more people would use the community access channel as an "electronic bulletin board." "If they want more information on how to use the system, they can always contact the city and we can assist," Spencer said.

Currently all community notices are submitted directly to St. Andrews for screening.

___ (c)2012 The Laurinburg Exchange (Laurinburg, N.C.) Visit The Laurinburg Exchange (Laurinburg, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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