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Upstream TV hopes to be on air in August

By Aug. 1, Bemidji should have an on-the-air community access television channel.

Jeremiah Liend, the chairman of the nonprofit Upstream TV, told the Bemidji City Council Monday that the group's goal is to be on air by August.

The council last month approved a contract with Upstream TV, or UTV, through which it will operate a public access channel, maintain and operate a studio and offer education and training to interested residents.

The council this week followed up with that action by voting unanimously to allocate $30,000 in PEG fees, or public education government fees, to Upstream TV.

Residential cable customers are charged 50 cents each month in which are then remitted to the city. There now are about about $115,000 available in PEG fees, which must be used toward public, educational or governmental television use.

Upstream TV had requested some of that funding to purchase production cameras and computers, a server and master computer and software. The money also will go toward studio leasing costs, studio improvements and office equipment.

The council's vote followed a similar action last week during a meeting between Upstream TV and the city's Public Affairs Committee.

Councilors Ron Johnson and Greg Negard both serve on that committee and said they were pleased with the potential for collaboration and partnership between the city and Upstream TV.

Johnson noted that Upstream TV's presence could also benefit the city's government access channel (Channel 2) on which various meetings are broadcast.

"A lot of good things could come of this," said Councilor Greg Negard.