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Columbia Access Television closing in September

Columbia Access Television will close its doors in the fall after 15 years.

The community access channel said in a news release that funding problems will cause it to cease operations Sept. 30. The station is funded in part by franchise fees collected by the city from cable providers. That funding stood at $200,000 annually in 2013 but has declined since then to $35,000 per year in the past three years, the station said in a news release.

We are broken and saddened to announce we are closing. Attached is the press release. Thank you to all that have supported CAT and community media!!

— Columbia Access TV (@columbiatv) March 27, 2019

The cuts forced the station to pare down staff to one full-time emplyee, according to the release, “and have significantly limited our ability to serve the community, the sole reason CAT exists.”

The funding issue resulted in long discussion at public meetings in recent years as the Columbia City Council worked to finalize yearly budgets.

Funding from the city makes up more than half of Columbia Access Television’s budget for the current fiscal year of $68,000, channel board president Shelly Silvey said. Silvey said the channel knew the discussions over the current fiscal year budget, which took place in the summer and fall, were critical for the station’s future.

Silvey said the station hoped the city would increase its funding, an idea that drew support from Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas, but the proposal ultimately failed. Discussion of closing up shop started at that time, she said.

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