The mayors of Wendell and Zebulon say it is too early to take a stance on Knightdale’s interest in splitting from East Wake Television and having its own government channel through the parent corporation, PEG Media Partners.
The towns of Archer Lodge, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wendell and Zebulon each funnel state funding to the PEG Media Partners nonprofit, which produces content for the East Wake TV channel 22 those five towns currently share.
PEG Media also produces content for individual, 24-hour cable channels in Garner and Clayton, with the help of the public information officers there. That’s the model Mayor James Roberson said he would like to explore for Knightdale.
Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny wants to know more about Knightdale’s intentions and how it would affect the grant funding that goes into East Wake TV.
“There’s been a lot of cooperative effort on East Wake TV and it’s been a very successful operation, so I don’t know why they want to pull out, but ‘I don’t know’ is the real answer,” Matheny said. “I know we’d still have other partners. It depends on whether the grant monies are pulled out along with this. Would it affect us or not, would it pull money away from East Wake TV?”
Wendell Mayor Ginna Gray said she doesn’t see how Roberson’s idea would hurt her town.
“Certainly, it gives (Knightdale) more opportunities and more visibility, and I don’t think for Wendell we’re quite there yet,” Gray said. “But then again, if Knightdale did its own thing there would be more opportunity with Wendell, Zebulon and Rolesville (on East Wake TV).
“It’s always a good thing to look at opportunities,” she said. “That’s a part of being a town.”
What it would take
PEG Media Partners Studio Director Gary McConkey said Roberson’s vision is possible without changing the financial arrangement.
Each town currently passes on about $55,000 in state funding to PEG Media – of which about $27,000 is designated for the towns’ government programming.
“It would stay the same – they would get the money and give it to us,” said McConkey, who was town manager in Knightdale in the late ’90s when the Town Council decided it wanted its meetings broadcast, effectively starting East Wake TV.
McConkey said more involvement on the part of Knightdale PIO Jonas Silver would be needed for the town to have its own 24-hour channel.
Knightdale would also have to ask Time Warner Cable and AT&T for its own channel, and those companies would have to install additional equipment in the Knightdale-based studio, McConkey said.
Other towns in the PEG Media partnership would have a say in allowing Knightdale to branch out, since the PEG board of directors is made up of town managers.
“The town managers may want to talk to their councils or boards about it before they vote on something like that,” McConkey said.
McConkey said he doesn’t have an opinion on Knightdale’s interest in upping its television presence.
But he did note that TVs now come internet-ready, enabling people to stream the programming they want to watch.
Most PEG Media patrons turn to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to catch the content produced for its channels, and PEG maintains the video players on the towns’ websites.
“I think they need to have all the information and then make the best decision,” McConkey said. “Right now, I don’t think they have all the information they need to have. But that’s why you discuss it.”