NCTV plans to go off the air |

NCTV plans to go off the air

More than two years have passed since the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office took the local community access TV station under its wing. And now, with negotiations at a standsill for a local cable franchise contract, the station’s executive director says the future of Nevada County Television looks bleak.

“How dire is it?” Lew Sitzer said late Thursday. “NCTV is scheduled to close its doors at the end of June.”

Sitzer and Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer sent out a letter this morning to the NCTV staff, local government officials and members of the media, making public the plans for the station to sign off for a final time.

“The well has run dry and the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office (NCSOS) can no longer underwrite NCTV’s operation without the support of Nevada County, Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Comcast all finalizing the franchise agreement,” the letter states. “By the end of June, without a signed, sealed and delivered contract, NCTV is going off the air.”

In November, McAteer said a proposed agreement called for Comcast to give NCTV $50,000 per year for operations. It also had a grant provision where Comcast would give $30,000 to NCTV every two years if the station raised the same amount of money.

Those funds coupled with the $50,000 per year brought in by underwriting would add up to $130,000 annually, enough for NCTV to operate, McAteer said at the time.

A public meeting on this issue is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Imaginarium in Nevada City.

Sitzer said with McAteer’s office stepping in two years ago, NCTV ” formerly known as FCAT (Foothill Community Access Television) ” stepped up its offering in terms of quality of station equipment available and the opportunities afforded to students with an interest in television.

Area video companies help create a “state-of-the-art facility” through donations of video equipment, Sitzer said, and junior high, high school and college students have helped raise the quality of programming along with the adult producers already on board.

“We produce about 25 local shows,” Sitzer said. “That’s a lot for a community of our size ” a very active community. The numbers are also growing, as people find out how easy it is to produce a TV show and that you can reach 10,000 homes.”

The letter, which is co-signed by McAteer and Sizter, concludes with a call to action for the community.

“NCSOS never expected to fiscally support the local TV station for this length of time,” the letter states. “A great deal has been accomplished and it would be a shame for all the hard work to go down the drain. Your encouragement to the cities and county to complete negotiations would be helpful.”

Sitzer said the message to the community should be clear.

“Terry has been a sparkplug. He’s been the energy behind moving things forward,” Sitzer said. “I can’t speak for him, but he knows that he has no formal power to conclude a contract. It’s up to the cities to reach a franchise agreement.

“They’ve had two years to do it. Now they have 45 days.”

For more information on NCTV, visit

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