Oct 9, 2014 9:40 PM

Public Access station in Laconia may go off air over lack of funds


LACONIA - The non-profit Lakes Region Public Access station in Laconia has been broadcasting community television for 15 years. It covers local goverment and education, and provides a television platform for community produced programming - like the travel show, "Today in Focus."

But Executive Director Denise Beauchaine says if something doesn't change they could be off the air on October 22nd. She said, "The funding situation has changed. The towns that were providing franchise fee support have elected to repurpose the money."

Many cities and towns are now posting video of government meetings online themselves.

Beauchaine claims it costs anywhere from $120,000 to $130,000 a year to keep the station running. They employ six people. Production Manager Patrick Sweeney is one of the two full-time workers.

Sweeny said, "To find out out of the blue, hey, we're not going to be able to pay you. You have four weeks to find a new job. It's a little scary."

LRPA's broadcast area includes Metro-Cast Cable customers in about 21 cities and towns throughout five counties. Some small donations come in, but they need municipal funding to stay in business.

Beauchaine said, "The solution in my mind is for the towns to come back, sit down with us and understand what we need baseline to operate and provide those funds for us."

The city of Laconia used to give LRPA $40,000 a year, but in June dropped that funding to $1,700 dollars.
The city said they based the amount on LRPA's own new rates and business model.

In a written statement City Manager Scott Myers said, "LRPA provided Laconia with a letter outlining their rates for various levels of service in conjunction with LRPA's new business model. The City responded... that we would subscribe at the highest service level, in an amount of $1,700."

Myers said the city has requested an invoice several times so they can pay LRPA, but so far haven't received one.


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