Forces gather to save NCTV | TheUnion.com

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Forces gather to save NCTV

Blaming Comcast for an impending money crisis that could lead to its closure, Nevada County Television has formed its own task force to lobby for support from area residents, and local and state government elected officials.

“This is our community, and I think we should just show (Comcast) the door. Ultimately, they are here to serve us,” said Gil Dominguez, an NCTV producer, at a meeting Thursday night.

This was just one idea sparked from the committee members to confront Comcast and force the cable company to come to an agreement with Nevada City, Grass Valley, and Nevada County over renewing their franchise agreements. Any delay, NCTV supporters say, is costing them money, leaving the 10-month-old station’s future uncertain.

Comcast is required by federal mandate to provide money to support a local public access channel if Comcast dominates in an area. Previous 15-year-old agreements allocated a total of $30,000 to local stations, an amount NCTV Executive Director Lew Sitzer says is now woefully inadequate.

It is believed by some that Comcast has deliberately stalled negotiations to keep from paying what could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars more each year.

“It is an example of a big company trying to take advantage of a small community,” said Gary Schlosser, who is a member of the NCTV task force.

But Comcast denies such accusations.

“We have been working consistently and are committed to resolving this issue,” said Susan Gonzales, senior director of communications at Comcast.

“There were never any specific dates agreed upon,” she said, adding that it takes time to gather the information Comcast needs to come to the table.

The task force did not seem to have much sympathy, brainstorming ways to force the cable company to a quick resolution.

“I think we need to devise as many strategies as we can. We don’t want to go down a dark tunnel,” Sitzer said.

One plan is to spearhead NCTV’s own fund-raising campaign, Sitzer said.

“I want to do a week fund-raising drive, culminating in a telethon. We are going to show the community we are a valuable station, but that won’t put pressure on Comcast.”

The pressure will come, in part, from elected officials, the task force hopes.

District 1 Nevada County Supervisor Nate Beason promised to ask the other supervisors at the board’s Feb. 8 meeting if they would agree to inviting the Comcast representatives to a board meeting.

“Would they show up?” Beason asked. “It’s an intimidation factor; Let’s have this guy come down and explain to us very cordially (what is going on).”

Other ideas included officially condemning Comcast’s cable lines, soliciting support from state elected officials, and connecting with other communities faced with similar troubles.

“I think it is up to those communities to band together and do something about it,” Sitzer said.