After a board decision reportedly made Aug. 15, the Nevada County Digital Media Center has announced it will end operations later this year.
The media center and cable television channels 11 and 17 will be shut down due to economic issues following the recession, said NCDMC President Karen Marinovich.
“For the last two or three years, the organization has had difficulty meeting its operating overhead,” she said. “We had a volunteer engineer and a volunteer executive director, and both will be leaving the organization shortly for personal reasons and cannot be replaced.”
Marinovich has only been on the board for three months but has developed a connection to the organization and expressed disappointment at its closure.
“It’s very sad and very emotional,” she said. “A lot of people have worked really hard to create and maintain that station for a long time, and there are a lot of people in the community that have emotional investments in the station, and it’s a very difficult situation.”
According to a news release from the Nevada County Digital Media Center, channel 11 will go off the air sometime this fall. The digital media center will be working with Nevada County to transition the operation of channel 17, the government channel, to the county.
“The goal will be to maintain continuous operation of that channel; however, there may be a period of time, yet to be determined, when it will also be off the air,” the release states.
“A forced move of the station operations from the Armory building that had been deemed unsafe to its current location in the Nevada City Tech Center pushed the organization closer to the edge of a financial cliff. With inadequate operating income, it was an uphill financial battle for the organization. The hill has proven to be too steep for the operation to climb,” Marinovich stated in the release.
“The closure is very difficult for the staff and those who have supported the organization over the years in many capacities,” Lew Sitzer, founding NCTV executive director, said in the release.
Sitzer stepped back into this role approximately nine months ago and has been serving on a volunteer basis.
“There are not sufficient funds to pay an executive director, engineer or staff to support the operation,” stated Marinovich.
“The digital media center staff, producers, members, donors and business supporters have been incredible, going above and beyond the call of duty to help keep the doors open,” stated Sitzer.
Gil Dominguez, founder and owner of TouchDown Productions, said he has worked with NCTV for 17 of its 20-year existence. He said he witnessed the movement of many board members “who know nothing about TV,” have been ineffective and exclusive and said he looks forward to their departure.
“We can’t let community television go away,” he said. “NCTV is like a gem to our community, not unlike the National or Holbrooke hotels or the library. It’s a fixture here, and we have a very good community with all kinds of shows.”
“We deserve the community to have its own station. Not every community gets to have a station, and to allow this board of directors to just throw in the towel is such a travesty,” he said.
Dominguez said he hopes the station will be turned over to the television producers who have a vested interest in the station and community.
“The money is there for community television; it’s just a matter of putting the right people in charge of that,” he said. “I would love to head up a new group of producers who want to run the station the way it’s supposed to be, with community involvement, not all the drama that’s been created over the years.”
Dominguez said he hopes those who care about community television voice their support for a new station.
“When you’re dealing with people that don’t really care about TV, what kind of outcome do you expect?” he said. “We need to get the board of supervisors and city councils to let the producers run the station the way it’s supposed to be run.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.