No Government Yet On Town's Television Access Channel


The Payson Town Council is still looking for a way to make its Thursday night meetings can-see TV.

After just seven months into its three-year contract with Larry Sheehan, the Town Council voted Feb. 25 to terminate Sheehan's services to broadcast Town Council meetings.

Sheehan asked the council to reconsider the termination and told them he had a deal in the works with a company "that's going to be offering TV to all of Payson." He said he had an agreement with the company for the government channel.

But Town Attorney Sam Streichman said the government access channel belongs to the town.

Streichman said later that government access channels were developed under federal law to allow for governmental use of the airwaves dedicated to competitive private use.

On Sept. 5, 1996, the Town Council authorized the claiming and activation of Channel 7 as the government access channel. The town took ownership of the channel through a provision in the franchise agreement with Arizona Cablecomm.

On June 11, the town approved an agreement with Sheehan that stipulated that meetings of the Town Council in the council chambers be broadcast live "as they occur." They were also to be replayed by videotape at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. the following day.

The three-year contract, which began July 1, 1998, was terminated because Sheehan did not broadcast the meetings live. He told the council he could not get the necessary equipment in place.

Council member Ken Murphy said, "It saddens me that we can't broadcast these meetings live for people who can't get here."

Streichman has advised Town Manager Rich Underkofler to go out for bids again for competitive proposals for renewing program services on the channel, which is now being used to broadcast program schedules by the cable company.

When Sheehan put in his bid to the Town Council, one other bidder, Steve Bingham, submitted a proposal.

Underkofler said Thursday that Bingham may want to submit another proposal. He said that Sheehan could also submit another bid.

The town manager said he had spoken to Payson Roundup publisher Richard Haddad, who is considering bidding to provide coverage of town meetings.

Haddad said he was interested in providing other information of interest to the public on the channel.

"We have so much information that we can share with the public," Haddad said. "We have the capability to do this - from lost dogs to town business."

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