The WNC Community Media Center has shut down studio operations while it continues to look for funding and production alternatives that would keep public-access television station URTV on the air.
The nonprofit organization closed its facility at 31 College Place in downtown Asheville on Saturday night, May 14.
“This action was taken to drastically reduce operating cost as a result of severe budget constraints in funding by local government,” announced Bob Horn, vice president of the WNC Community Media Center’s board. The Center has no paid staff at this time: Pat Garlinghouse, the Center’s former executive director and Jonathan Czarny, former operations manager, are no longer employed by the organization, although they continue to volunteer for it, said Horn.
Meanwhile, URTV is using an automated system to continue broadcasting pre-recorded material via its website and Charter Communications Channel 20, he explained. The loss of the facility means that producers will no longer be able to use Media Center equipment and studios, and all classes, training and other services are on hold. However, the Media Center’s board of directors is looking for ways to air new programming that producers create using their own equipment and resources, reported Horn.
“We’ve been thinking outside of the box based on the money we have available to operate it. … We’re looking into a system that would allow producers to upload content online and pull programming on to the channel,” he explained. “It’s nice to have a studio, but when it’s taken away from you, there [are] other vehicles that are available to us as a community. But they take more expertise.” For those with limited technical skills, putting together a show can be challenging but not impossible, Horn explains. “Basically people could submit their information like you can submit to Google or Vimeo or YouTube and it would allow them access to our public access channel. It would be done remotely.”
Meanwhile, the board continues to consider taking legal action against Buncombe County to receive funding it says it’s owed. And Horn maintained that officials at the state attorney general’s office are investigating the situation.
“It’s very fluid where we’re at right now,” he noted, adding that the board is still holding out hope that it will be able to revive its facility, which he says the landlord will allow them to retain for another month at no charge.