FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue Community Access TV is now available on the internet. Several shows, including high school sports, are available through live streaming.
“We’re very optimistic,” JP Fortier, executive director, said of the future of the local-access station. “But it is also very challenging.”
The station is adding new services and promoting internet access through its website and Facebook page while looking for greater revenue sources to meet expenses, he said. The channel was previously only shown through Bee Line Cable.
Fortier presented the 2018 station budget to Farmington Selectmen on Tuesday. Franchise fees, the largest income contributor, have dwindled over the past 10 years, he said.
Previously, the annual fees, provided by Bee Line to Farmington and Wilton for use of the town’s property as a right-of-way for its cable, would pay most of Mt. Blue’s budget. The station could concentrate on making shows, he said.
“Now we have to find other revenue to make up the difference,” Fortier said.
The anticipated income for 2018 is $94,276, slightly less than the $94,404 in expected expenses.
The income includes $44,012 in franchise fees to Farmington and $22,513 to Wilton. The fees are based on 5 percent of gross revenue in cable sales, Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis said. The fees went down this year, but not as much as in previous years.
“With more access to the station’s programming available,” Fortier said, “we hope people will value the local shows and support the station year-round.”
A new viewer-support campaign, similar to one used by Channel 10, is being developed. A box on the station’s website now provides an easy and secure method of donating by credit card or through PayPal, he said.
Some of the new programming developed for the coming year includes “Western Maine Storytellers.” Members of the storytellers group will come to the studio and share their stories.
Another new program is “Maine Outdoors with Master Guide Milt Baston,” of Strong.
This will include shows on fishing, hiking and other outdoors activities, according to Fortier. In late January, the station plans to offer a show on fly tying.
Fortier emphasized that the station must find additional financial backing for shows filmed outdoors.
Viewers interested in watching a Farmington or Wilton selectperson’s meeting as it takes place, but from the comfort of their own home, can now do so with live streaming.
The station is also trying to increase its live coverage of sports, which requires addressing time conflicts some Tuesdays between high school basketball games and selectmen meetings. For now, the station can only live stream one event at a time, with selectmen meetings taking precedence.
In 2018, the station hopes to live stream two shows simultaneously. Another live stream company has been found that would allow for the second program, according to Fortier.
“We just want to get the word out that everyone now has access to Mt. Blue TV,” Fortier said.
For more information or a program schedule, see www.mtbluetv.org or Facebook.
Mt. Blue Community Access TV provides local shows such as “Talkin’ Maine with Tom Saviello.” Saviello, left, is shown interviewing Clyde Ross, deputy chief of Farmington Fire-Rescue. New programming and more live-streamed sports are planned for 2018. (JP Fortier Photo)