By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer’s public television channel is throwing open the airwaves to residents for the first time.

The channel has been around for more than a decade, and has slowly but surely made strides: Improved production equipment came with the new city hall building. KeizerTV.com launched to provide on-demand access to government meetings, programs like Keizer Oral History and Cop Talk, and McNary High School last year aired Celtic School News on K-23, and plans are in place to do so again this year. It’s on Channel 23 for Comcast subscribers. A livestreaming option is on the way.

But public submissions never made it past the deliberative stage, and at one time fears of prurient interest programming like nude bowling derailed any serious talks.

But Cathy Clark, a city councilor who’s on the K-23 Advisory Committee, said it turns out people largely don’t use public access to push those kinds of boundaries.

“The alternative venues for people with, shall we say, crass tastes, you’re just not going to see that on local access channels in general,” Clark said. “Being able to put that onto YouTube or other Internet sites, especially if they want to make money at it, that leaves out our local access channel.”

“You don’t have as many people seeing something like community access TV as the only way to get their program out,” added Jason Heimerdinger, who sits on the committee.

A lot has changed since Keizer 23 went on the air. Perhaps most notably is the advent of YouTube and other on-demand video services that provide an outlet to anyone with the technological means. But Clark said both programmers and viewers of a channel like K-23 tend to be locally oriented.

“That’s not necessarily what’s on YouTube unless you have a direct link,” Clark said. “I’m not going to sit online and try to find everything on there about Keizer or Salem; that’s just a colossal waste of time. But if I know there’s a channel devoted to Keizer and Salem, I’m going to go there.”

“It can become a centralized location for Keizer content, produced by Keizerites who believe it’s interesting for other Keizerites to watch,” Heimerdinger added.

Potential producers will have to use their own equipment; the channel doesn’t have a production facility like Salem’s CCTV or loaner equipment.

“We just don’t have the staff or facility to make that available, but it’s a dream of people on this committee to make that sort of access available,” Clark said.

The channel is funded by PEG (public, education and government) access dollars, which are assessed on your cable bill. This federal program prohibits local governing boards like the K-23 Advisory Committee from previewing content for its suitability.

Instead, producers must rate their shows according to the Federal Communications Commission’s TV guidelines, like TV-G, TV-14, etc. Depending on the show’s content, it may be restricted to nighttime hours. They also must be burned to a DVD and playable on a standard home DVD player.

“If there’s a problem with that submission, then there’s repercussions as far as being able to submit videos in the future,” said Program Director Rex Robertson.

In addition to bringing back Celtic School News, Heimerdinger hopes to start airing student compilations.

Commercial speech is also generally banned – no commercials, no calls to action (Buy! Buy! Buy!) or advertising prices. Limited sponsorship messages are allowed.

For more information, call the city of Keizer at 503-390-3700 or visit www.keizer.org. To see existing programming visit KeizerTV.com.