TV channel devoted to community

Argen Duncan

Portales is one of a few cities to have its own community cable channel, according to the Comcast cable operations manager.

Portales Community Television Channel 19 is available to the approximately 2,500 Comcast customers who use the company’s basic service in Portales, said Comcast Operations Manager Spencer Debord.

The channel shows information about community events and city government information and job openings in a slide-show format 24 hours a day.

“Everything that’s on there should be community-related,” Debord said, explaining commercials aren’t allowed.

The city added a page about the channel to its website about 2 1/2 months ago, but the channel has been active in Portales about six years.

City Manager Tom Howell said free use of the channel was part of the franchise agreement that allows Comcast to serve Portales. He said it’s beneficial because it’s a way to get information to the public.

“And the more forms to get information out, the better off we are,” he said.

Debord said “local origination” had been around for a while before the City of Portales began using Channel 19.

“We just wanted to give something to the community, and it seemed like a good idea,” he said of providing the channel.

City Information Technology Director Dennis Hale said Portales Public Library Director Denise Burnett takes submissions and maintains the programming by remotely accessing a computer in City Hall. Then the information goes by fiber link to the Comcast network control center for distribution.

Debord said Comcast keeps equipment for the channel in working order. Whether the company or the city pays for new equipment if something breaks depends on the situation, he said.

Debord said Comcast receives lots of calls if Channel 19 ever goes off line.

“We don’t get a lot of feedback on it, but there are people that are interested in watching it,” he said.