Connersville, Ind. is a city located at the eastern central part of the state with a population of more than 15,000. In 1998, the city commissioned TV3—a public, education and government (PEG) channel—to serve those residents.
TV3 director John Pause operators the PEG channel’s board
When TV3 was started, “it was very bare bones,” said John Pause, the channel’s director. “When we started out the budget was under $100,000, and the location was a room 30 feet by 40 feet,” he said. “I was hired to build the channel from the ground up.”
The “bare bones” equipment Pause had to work with was a VHS playback, a single rack, a 486 computer and no cameras, he said. “It was a basic as you can get.”
However, an educational access channel operated by Connersville High School (CHS) since 1972 provided TV3 with a link and ally. By the time CHS undertook production of its education channel, it had gained broadcast experience when, in 1970, it began a daily live. In addition, its daily TV news program—“CHS Today”—was the first student-produced TV news program in the United States.
Originally, the news show was only to be broadcast to the school via closed-circuit TV. It has since expanded and now airs live on weekdays at 11:00 a.m. and re-airs twice in the evening at 6:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. via TV3, which has a fiber optic feed to the high school.
The original rack TV3 started with contained basic playback equipment, and it had been pre-wired so there was a link from the school system to the cable system, Pause said. The link to the channel operated by CHS as an opportunity for growth, he said.
The set of the TV3 program ‘Connersville Speaks.’
While Pause remained vigilant to opportunities to grow TV3, it was important to “be fairly conservative in the way that we purchased,” he said. “The most important thing was to be careful with the budget, so it took a long time to build up to where we are today.” TV3’s current budget of $149,755 is based entirely on the cable franchise fees and allows for two full time employees; Pause and assistant director Justin Roberts.
Pause said that by slowly purchasing equipment when the channel could, TV3’s equipment grew from a basic VHS playback to Newtek switchers and switcher interface; four Canon studio cameras with Manfrotto tripods; Mackie Onyx 24-4 Audio Mixer; Lowel Fluo-Tec Studio 250 fluorescent production lights, and a production van custom designed and built by TV3.
“We’ve taken the used van [a 2005 Dodge Sprinter 3500] that was a plumbers vehicle, and we created the interior for a production vehicle,” pause said. “We primarily use that for sports production, but it’s fully capable for any type of field production we need to do,” he added.
The channel has also moved to a larger facility. A bank building in downtown Connersville had been left empty because the bank had built a new building, Pause said. The bank had been working with the city on how to use the old building, and eventually the building was given to the city, he said. City officials considered moving city hall into the building, but decided against that, and then made the decision to move TV3 into the old bank building, he said. “We gained almost four times the space.”
Like other PEG channels, TV3’s production schedule is focused on local government—in 2010 the channel produced 218 programs for a total of 266 hours—including covering public meeting such as Connersville’ City Council and Board of Public Works; Fayette County’s County Commissioners and County Council; school board; the area planning commission and the zoning appeals board.
Politics are also important to TV3, and it covers primary and general elections; meet the candidates’ events and debates; and provides live election results. It also covers press conferences; and congressional town hall meetings.
However, the approach taken with TV3 is “as a community access channel, meaning we do more than just standard government and educational programming,” pause said. “Because the channel has become fairly important to the community, we want to cover events that serve the community such as the July 4th fireworks. We broadcast those live for those residents who cannot attend the fireworks, such as nursing home residents. They really appreciate it when we show that live on TV so they can experience it.”
The slate of non-government, community focused programs produced by TV3 is broad; ranging from live, call-in shows such as “The Garden Doctor,” hosted by Harold Matthews and “Connersville Speaks,” which features the mayor and guests. There are also interview and talk shows such as “HealthTalk,” sponsored by Fayette Regional Health System; “Sports Report,” focused on local and national sports; and “Game of the Week,” which is focused on local sports.
TV3 also has a strong focus on community events, including “High School Promenade Live,” which introduces prom guest as they arrive; the high school’s band and choir’s Christma s and Spring concerts; high school scholarship awards and graduation; Fayette County Free Fair Queen Contest and corresponding parade; and “At the Fair,” a live interview show broadcast from the fair. TV3 also broadcasts emergency messages such as school delays or cancellations, as well as water advisories and evacuation notices.