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Kathy Gagnon

Let's Acknowledge the Problems & Fix Katahdin Area Television
By Kathy Gagnon
Jul 27, 2006 - 11:31:00 PM

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I love the opportunity that Bee Line Cable TV provides for the area with Katahdin Area Television (KAT-TV). I thank Bee Line for this opportunity and their support of the area by providing us with KAT-TV.

Unfortunately, I feel this opportunity is not being used to its fullest potential for the entire community. I have been volunteering and attending KAT meetings for over six months now. I began participating because I wanted to give of my time and efforts for something that I support and appreciate. I saw it as a way to make a positive contribution to a great opportunity for the area.

In the six-plus months that I have been participating and attending meetings, I have seen very little get accomplished as a result of the meetings. The fact that most of the equipment for KAT-TV has been removed from the station and is being used by two volunteers at their homes exclusively makes it even more difficult for volunteers to either learn to use the equipment, or for those who know how to prepare anything for airing. Add to that, the phone calls to the station manager that do not get answered or returned and public access is almost non-existent. When I raised these concerns at a meeting, I was verbally attacked by KAT-TV chairman, David Nelson, who accused me of making personal attacks and would not allow me to clarify that my comments were about the equipment, and were not a personal attack on anyone.

KAT-TV has had the funds and board approval to purchase new equipment for at least two months now and this has not been done as of yet. With the existing equipment being monopolized by two volunteers, more equipment available to other volunteers would be very helpful.

At the last meeting I attended, I was quite unnerved to notice that the meeting was being taped without the knowledge of several of the volunteers present, one of which was myself. This was not the problem though. The problem was that the taping was being done by a person hiding behind a partition and doing the taping secretly in this manner. I found this very upsetting and expressed my discomfort about it to Mr. Nelson at the meeting and afterwards in an email. Had the taping been done openly, it would not have been a problem, but the manner in which it was done was. His response to my email was that I was perfectly welcome to discontinue my participation with KAT-TV if I did not like this.

As a life-long resident, taxpayer, and Bee Line subscriber for well over 20 years, I believe I have the right to participate and have something to offer with my participation.

Footage taped by volunteers with their own camera is not getting aired because they have no equipment available to prepare the tape for airing. As of 07/01/06, the board has been unable to approve and finalize by-laws and operating procedures due to Mr. Nelsonís lack of organization, time and leadership. Furthermore, no application for a tax number that would allow KAT-TV to operate as a tax exempt 501(c)(3) entity has been filed. This lack of an established tax exempt status has made KAT-TV unable to receive phone service, for public access, or grants.

It would be a shame to lose this wonderful opportunity because of poor management. Discouraging volunteers is not the way a public access organization should operate. I believe KAT-TV needs non-political leadership which encourages and welcomes volunteers, and offers more programming with the entire community involved. Town events, local news, games and activities with local children, local organization activities and much more could be and should be being aired. Current management is not allowing these possibilities when they limit volunteer participation, equipment availability and program subjects.

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