Kenner officials seek upgrades for public access channel

The city’s public access channel is hoping to get roughly $30,000 in equipment upgrades in the upcoming months that will improve the station’s efficiency and allow the continuation of 24-hour programming.

Kenner officials are looking for tweaks to the city’s budget that will allow Kenner TV to upgrade the cameras, servers and monitors the station uses to put together broadcasts of city meetings and community television programs.

One of those tweaks involved saving roughly $22,000 on an upgrade to the city’s telephone system, said Valerie Waguespack, the city’s director of information and technology.

Waguespack said KTV needs the upgrades because its existing equipment has become incredibly outdated and unreliable. Not only is the equipment old, but some of it was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. KTV’s two employees are constantly tinkering with equipment to keep it functioning, but that can only work for so long, she said.

“We’ve come to the point where we think the cost to maintain is more than it’s worth,” Waguespack said. “Upgraded equipment is something they can really benefit from.”

KTV could use a new camera that would make downloading video easier. New monitors would help with editing and creating video programs. And, the most important aspect is the new server that would allow the station to operate on a continuous basis, Waguespack said. The existing server allows automation at the station, which means the programs can continue even when employees leave for the day. However, the server was damaged in the storm and is on the verge of collapse, Waguespack said. Without a new server, it’s only a matter of time before the station has to cut back on its offerings, she said.

“If that goes down, there’s no guarantee that this can continue,” Waguespack said. “With any type of technological equipment with age comes problems.”

Waguespack was initially going to seek the upgrades through the city’s capital projects budget. But given Kenner’s tight finances it wasn’t clear how that would work. However, through the efforts of Councilman Keith Reynaud and some pencil sharpening by Waguespack, it looks like the city might find the money from other sources.

Reynaud said he saw it as extremely important to upgrade KTV because it is a service residents appreciate. The channel was dedicated to Kenner under its franchise agreements with local cable providers, and the station shows programs of local interest along with emergency news. In fact, last year the city unveiled a marketing campaign designed to encourage residents to shop in Kenner on the channel. Reynaud said he’s still in discussions with city officials to figure out the best way to secure all the funding needed for the upgrades.

“We’re trying to work out getting all the money that is needed for KTV to do the upgrade,” he said last week. “KTV does so much with so little.”

Councilman Joseph Stagni said he’s glad Reynaud has made the issue a priority and fully supports funding the upgrades, particularly through money saved on another contract.

“I commend Mr. Reynaud for making this a priority. I think this is the best way,” Stagni said.