By Mason Carr
The Fayetteville Television Center — the only public access channel in Arkansas — will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an open house celebration and introduction of new upgrades on Jan. 31. Although the upgrades will remain a surprise until the anniversary celebration, said Fritz Gisler, manager of the center, announcements will include new class structures, new classes available and special recognition.
The center is already in the midst of new paint. The control and editing rooms have been reconfigured and upgraded in the past few years and new, upgraded studio cameras came in a couple months ago.
Also, this year, classes at the center began to be split into basic and advanced sections. In 2015, new field equipment will be upgraded to digital and have high-definition capabilities, Gisler said.
“By 2015 [the city television center] will be as modern and up-to-date a facility as any commercial television station you will find anywhere,” he said.
Twenty years ago the city of Fayetteville built the television center as a base for the then newly formed government channel and newly city-funded Fayetteville Public Access Television channel, which had been independently run for roughly a decade, Gisler said.
The government channel is run by city employees and covers every meeting body that is associated with Fayetteville government, about 30 meetings a month, and airs city council meetings, city council agenda sessions, planning commission meetings and Washington County Quorum Court meetings live, Gisler said.
Fayetteville Public Access Television works as a free-speech platform for the community, and provides free classes on editing, studio production and field production, as well as free equipment rental for class graduates. It is uniquely run in partnership with nonprofit video organization, Your Media, which also provides video services to the community and other local non-profit organizations.
It is perhaps the only city-funded station in the country that contracts a nonprofit organization to operate it, Gisler said.
“The beauty of having [this] city-based service with a nonprofit operating it for the city is that it provides an opportunity to make it completely nondiscriminatory, first-come-first-serve, and completely dedicated to everyone having the same opportunity to have their First Amendment rights exercised,” said Dan Robinson, executive director of Your Media.
The renovations of the television center have come after years of stagnation, wanting to re-vitalize the community’s relationship with the center.
“The changes that have come in the past three years have been exponential,” Robinson said. “It had a period where it kind of ran as a status-quo, but the work in the past three years has just exponentially increased the accessibility and the opportunities that this facility is able to offer, and it has this new openness to the community, which we’re very excited about [having] this open house.”
The open house reception will begin at 4:30 p.m., Jan. 31, followed by a rededication ceremony at 5:15 p.m. with Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Gisler and Robinson. It is during the rededication ceremony that the “special announcements” will be made, according to the news release. Self-guided tours of the television center will be available from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
The night will be broadcast on Public Access Television’s channel, Cox Communications cable channel 218, AT&T Uverse channel 99, or streaming online at livestream.com/fayettevillepublicaccesstv.