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Selectmen may go on air in September; Effect on meetings raises concerns.

Byline: Shirley Barnes

TEMPLETON - Selectmen's meetings could be televised as early as September if the town TV station wiring is completed on time.

The Cable Television Committee plans to start taping selectmen's meetings on a practice basis in September if the wiring has not been completed by Comcast, the town provider. The tapes would be shown through the Narragansett Regional School District system the day after the meeting. The school department could only produce the program during school hours, when staff and students are available.

"Most people want to watch the selectmen's meeting in the evening because they are usually working during the day," committee member Neil Cullen said.

The committee has been establishing the town station and accumulating equipment with money paid by Comcast as part of the contract with the town. The town station is 90 percent installed and tested, according to the committee. Some of the equipment will be shared with the school department.

Part of the contract includes money toward wiring a site of origin at a future town hall for live broadcasting. These funds from Comcast originate as part of the price subscribers pay. The committee said if customers already are paying that $10,000 cost and a town hall might not be built, the money would be better spent toward payment for the fiber line to the present station.

When the local station is running, the committee hopes to have students in the high school television program work with the town system. Students also will be encouraged to film events, such as athletic events and around-town events, for production by the local station.

Since the station is a public access station, guidelines must be set for use. The committee said that bulletins from town departments, while providing good information, need to be changed for brief notices. The longer information probably would be better put on the town Web site.

The committee also speculated on the effect televised meetings would have on the performance of town officials and the participating audience. Mr. Cullen said he wondered whether the officials would calm down with the camera watching or whether officials and the audience would initially perform for the audience.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 14, 2007
Previous Article:Business briefs.

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