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BCTV Station Manager Bill Jennings shows off the cable access channel’s facility to visitors on a recent tour. (Kathy Remillard Photo)

BCTV has expanded from humble beginnings, now state of the art

BCTV is at the cutting edge of cable access, and the only thing missing is you.

“If you have an idea, it’s a great idea,” said station manager Bill Jennings.

Jennings said the intent of his staff is to make people comfortable at the station so that they can easily produce a show.

“Don’t be intimidated by the equipment,” he said. “Our whole intent is to make people feel comfortable.”

Public tours were recently available to show residents what’s available at the station, how they can catch up with local government and school events, and a behind the scenes glimpse of the studios and set – all of which comes at no cost to the taxpayer.

“We do not use any tax dollars whatsoever,” Jennings said. “We’re lean and mean, as we like to call it,” adding that all funding for the station comes from cable franchise fees.

Jennings said the station has come a long way since its humble beginnings, and that in 1998, the town came close to losing public access television.

The Town Council at the time saw that it was a valuable endeavor, and pushed forward with it, Jennings said, bringing on former WMUR-TV personality Cathy Burnham to strengthen it.

“It does not work without the full, continuing support of our town government,” Jennings said. “And they’re behind us 150 percent.”

When Burnham left the station in 2000, Jennings, a BCTV volunteer at the time, was offered the position of station manager, and he’s seen plenty of changes, from a new location, to a new set, to the addition of studios at Bedford High School.

Currently, Comcast customers in Bedford can watch Channels 16, 22 and 23 to view government meetings, see locally produced shows and watch public service announcements.

For those living outside of Bedford, there is live streaming – the programming running on air runs concurrently online.

Residents can also watch their town government in action, with most public meetings airing live. The station also broadcasts Bedford High School’s graduation live each year.

The video on demand feature allows online access to previously aired meetings and sporting events, which Jennings said he’s received positive feedback about – one Bedford soldier stationed in Iraq told Jennings he would watch Bedford High School football games because they reminded him of home.

Town Manager Jessie Levine said that BCTV has set the bar high for community television.

“There is broadcasting of not only public meetings, but all kinds of community events that people may otherwise miss,” Levine said. “BCTV has provided multiple opportunities for Bedford residents to better understand and connect with one another. And it’s one of the few departments in which volunteers and employees work in very close collaboration on a daily basis.”

Tours of the station will be offered each spring and fall, Jennings said, so the community can see for themselves the opportunities available at the station.

“It’s just a jewel still waiting to be discovered by a lot of people,” he said.

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