Everett to spend $400K to improve city’s access channel

EVERETT — The city’s elected leaders are ready to emerge from the shadows.

Poor picture quality on the city’s government-access channel leaves the Everett City Council’s weekly meetings shrouded in semi-darkness, lending an unintentionally murky quality to broadcasts.

That’s about to change.

The city television station stands to benefit from $400,000 in new equipment that’s on the way. Installation work at Everett TV is on track to start later this year, with improvements fully in place some time next spring.

“We’re buying new equipment to replace failing and outdated equipment,” said city spokeswoman Kate Reardon, who oversees the station. “We are currently working with equipment that is up to 16 years old.”

The result should be higher-quality broadcasts. The new equipment also should allow people to work remotely, a big plus during major weather events and other emergencies when it’s difficult to make it to the office.

“If I can tweet it, I can put it on the TV,” Reardon said.

Everett TV broadcasts on Channel 29 for Frontier subscribers and Channel 21 for Comcast customers. It runs City Council meetings and other city-produced shows, including the mayor’s monthly update. There’s a regular hockey news program produced in partnership with the Silvertips and content from other local governments and agencies, including Sound Transit. When programs aren’t running, the station shows public service announcements and meeting notices.

The update has been under discussion for more than a year. The city last spent around $1 million in 2003 and 2004 on a major upgrade.

Most of the station’s current equipment is at least 10 years old, past the normal seven to 10-year replacement cycle, Reardon said.

The City Council on Oct. 24 approved a $404,952.75 contract with Erik Utter and Associates of Seattle for the new equipment and installation.

The money will pay for cameras, production equipment and lighting at City Council chambers.

Money for the equipment came from a monthly $1-per-subsriber fee charged to cable customers in Everett. The city stopped collecting the fee last year, after generating $1.7 million. That money is paying for the upcoming work, and the remainder will be on hand for future upgrades.

Everett TV reaches about the 30,0000 Everett households that subscribe to cable, but the city has no way to track how many people tune in. They know people are watching, Reardon said, because whenever there’s a glitch, “we get calls.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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