Cash-Strapped D.C. Boasts HD Cable Access Channel

November 22, 2006
The local government of Washington, D.C., has been plagued with budget woes of one form or another for as long as anyone can remember. But that is hardly the case with its state-of-the-art Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications. In recent months, the tiny department (in conjunction with an outside firm) has spent about $6.5 million to upgrade its studios for HD productions.

It is likely the only local cable access channel in the U.S. that boasts HD credentials. According to The Washington Post, part of the city's HD package consists of a $1.2 million satellite production truck, as well as studios renovated for $2.3 million. (The paper said much of the department's HD work is done under no-bid contracting.)

The city's cable channel has not exactly hurt for funding in recent years. The office got $5 million back in 2001 when the cable provider serving the nation's capital was bought by Comcast. Millions more dollars came in subsequent years, thanks to overdue franchise fees. Today, the access channel continues to receive about $5 million a year from a 5 percent fee on each D.C. resident's cable bill.

The public HD outlet also manages to cover some exotic locales beyond its city studios: Film crews have been dispatched to South Africa, China and Europe to record some official trips by outgoing Mayor Anthony Williams.

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