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Howland stepping down from West Boylston cable.

Byline: Bonnie Fancy

The following correction was published Aug. 7, 2008:

Public Access television went on the air in West Boylston on Aug. 28, 1990. Due to a reporting error, the dated was stated incorrectly in last week's Banner.


WEST BOYLSTON - As of Aug. 1, Steve Howland will no longer be involved with public access cable television in West Boylston. In stepping down as program coordinator, he is automatically removed as chairman for the PEG (Public, Education and Government) Board. Howland said he is also resigning from the Cable Advisory Committee for a time period.

While the announcement may seem abrupt, Howland said he had been thinking about it for several years, starting three years ago. He said he mentioned resigning twice, but Town Administrator Leon Gaumond Jr. and Howland's wife, Louise, talked him out of it. Howland said this time, Louise hadn't tried to talk him out of resigning, which made him even more sure he was doing the right thing.

"I've been running this thing for 18 years now, and it's time to move on," he said. "If and when I do come back, it will be as `Joe Producer' and not in charge of anything."

Howland said the long commute to and from his job in Franklin, and neglected chores around the house were major considerations.

Howland said 18 years ago he discovered a grant was available for West Boylston to set up a three-channel community access system through what was then Greater Media Cable. He said that on Aug. 28, 1986, (SEE CORRECTION) West Boylston Community Access television went on the air.

Unlike larger cities, there have been very few complaints, Howland said, noting that some larger cities and towns have had issues with questionable content that have gone to court. He said the outcome has always been that the programs with questionable content have been confined to late night. He noted that when Charter took over Greater Media Cable, the service to the local channels remained good.

"You do have to give Charter a pat on the back for honoring its commitment to PEG," he said.

He noted that it sometimes takes a while for Charter to fix problems, which is quite frustrating. He noted that from the broadcast station in the library, the signal goes through five points before it reaches the home. Any one of these points can develop problems and it takes a while to find and repair the situation.

Howland said that with the new technology there is the need for new energy both in community access programming in town and on the PEG Board. Currently, Howland is chairman of the PEG Board. Charlie Greenough is vice chairman, Susan Kierstead is secretary, Jack McCormick is treasurer and members at large are Dale Kierstead, Barbara Deschenes, Pauline McCormick, Anne Marie Richardson and Steve Pello.

Howland said he hoped, by stepping down, someone new will come in and bring new ideas.

"The ideal person would have a good understanding of the basics of video production," he said. "For this to continue to grow, it needs a new organizational eye."

Howland noted that all of the board members are volunteers.

"Since day one, it has been 100 percent volunteers. No one has ever received one penny," he said.

Howland pointed out that "public access" means come use it.

"If you want a program, it is your right and privilege to come in and learn how to use the equipment," he said.



CUTLINE: Steve Howland will no longer be behind the boards at West Boylston cable.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 31, 2008
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