In the spring of 2002, a small group of citizens were concerned with what was occurring on some Salisbury town boards and committees. They met and decided that the only way to bring about change was to start televising these meetings. Eight individuals from this group obtained training from Adelphia, Salisbury’s cable provider at the time. Also at this time, Adelphia was televising the meetings of the Board of Selectmen and Salisbury Town Meetings as part of their franchise agreement with the town. In the summer and fall of 2002, this group of volunteers started televising (both live and taped) meetings of the Board of Health, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, License Commission, and Conservation Commission as well as several meetings of the Zoning Review Committee and the Warrant Advisory Committee.
In 2003 Salisbury Community Access took control of Channel 18 and the community bulletin board. They started televising live from the Hilton Senior Center. In 2004 and 2005, election results we televised live including interviews with the winners and other town officials. As our volunteers dwindled, Salisbury Community Access requested the Board of Selectmen to request Adelphia to cover two more meetings a month as per the franchise agreement. In January 2005, Adelphia took over the televising of the Board of Health meetings.
In the spring of 2006, the Town Manager added two members of the Community Access group to the Cable Advisory Committee as the Town prepared to negotiate the renewal license for Comcast, the successor to Adelphia. The Committee worked with the Town Manager and special counsel Peter Epstein. They were able to recommend a renewal license agreement to the Board of Selectmen in August of 2007.
Under the terms of the Renewal License granted to Comcast, the Town received $75,000 for equipment and quarterly payments of 4% of Comcast’s gross revenues. This was projected to be $100,000 annually. The Town also received all of the equipment that was in place at the Hilton Center for televising the meetings held there.
In September 2007 the Town Manager appointed a Convener’s Board to create the framework for a nonprofit organization that would provide the community with access to cable production and programming. Rika Welsh, who has 30 years of experience in community access, was hired to act as the facilitator for the board and to expedite the process. In December 2007, the Conveners presented the names of 8 community members to be appointed to the Board of Directors of Salisbury Community TV & Media Center, Inc. a not-for-profit corporation officially registered with the Secretary of State.
On January 1, 2008 the Town of Salisbury became responsible for all programming for both channel 12 & 18, although they agreed to continue to carry the programming from Amesbury for Channel 12 until SCTV as ready to supply programming of their own. The first meeting of the Board of Directors for SCTV occurred on January 10, 2008. The Board, working with the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager, entered into an agreement with SCTV so it could take responsibility for operating Salisbury’s access channels.
After advertising for an Executive Director in trade publications and web sites, the board received 7 applications for the position. The Board chose 3 candidates to interview, and in May offered the position to Lance Wisniewski, a resident of Salisbury. Wisniewski assumed the position of Executive Director on July 1, 2008, the beginning of SCTV’s full fiscal year.
SCTV continues to televise board and committee meeting in Salisbury, using volunteers to direct the videos. SCTV looks forward to even greater participation from the community.