MUNSTER | For 25 years, MUNCAB, the town’s cable TV advisory committee, provided live and recorded programs featuring the Ridge community that played to wide audiences in Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs in Cook County.
Then in 2007, the screens went dark.
However, MUNCAB’s $199,000 a year budget continued to be spent renting a studio at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts at $1,149 per month.
Funds also paid the salary and benefits for the cable television coordinator, a town employee who hadn’t been able to work since 2011 because of serious illness.
In September, the Munster Town Council took action and accepted a reorganization plan submitted by Town Manager Tom DeGiulio. The employee was terminated, as was the lease for the studio. The camera and editing equipment are being stored for eventual sale.
Part of the reorganization plan involved seeking bids from vendors to provide staff, equipment and possible studio space for video production.
That proved to be another stumbling block, as the Munster Town Council and MUNCAB members learned during a recent study session.
Lakeshore TV and WJOB submitted bids that ranged from $150,000 to $180,000.
“That’s too rich for our blood,” said Joe Simonetto, Town Council president.
In addition, Councilman Andy Koultourides said programming on cable TV is rather old-school. He suggested using YouTube as a medium for videos about Munster.
The town’s staff is revamping the Munster website and adding video streaming capabilities, DeGiulio said. The website and YouTube could be linked, he said.
Much of the meeting dealt with how to scale back the project to fit a reduced budget, but still produce video that can be used to highlight Munster. The two groups exchanged ideas about how video could be used to promote the town and keep its residents informed.
Longtime MUNCAB member Carol Moore said committee members are all professional producers of TV programming and have lots of ideas for what could be covered.
“We have had a real misunderstanding about what kind of content is wanted. We have been at cross purposes,” she said.
Councilman David Nellans stressed developing unit pricing for what video would cost.
“The staff needs to know what do we want to get out of this,” DeGiulio said. “The staff and MUNCAB want to be sure that we are working in the right direction, following the vision of the council.”
Those topics that will be taken up by the Town Council at a future meeting, Simonetto said.