City, PAC 14 seeking broadcast improvements

Improvements to audio quality provided by PAC 14 when meetings are broadcast to the public, as well as better overhead lighting, were discussed when the City Council met with Creig Twilley, general manager of the public access channel.

“The priority should be fixing the audio. That seems to be the main complaint right now, is being able to hear you guys,” Twilley told council members at their work session Monday.

He asked if council members have difficulty hearing each other and Councilwoman Laura Mitchell said they don’t.

“These mics are working fine?” he asked, and Mitchell said they are old and have flaws.

She said it’s difficult to hear dialogue when County Council meetings are broadcast. Twilley explained microphones in the chamber were designed to pick up sound right in front of the person speaking, but some sit too far away or lean back in their chairs.

Mitchell said everybody was in agreement that audio should be the priority.  Councilman Muir Boda said he’d like to see meetings recorded directly from microphones to build audio files.

“We want to preserve that and make it better,” Twilley said.

Mitchell said technology changes every six months to a one year, so she doesn’t want the city to spend $5,000 for better audio, then discover it’s not compatible with new video technology. She was assured equipment is pre-configured to work with future, more modern additions, so they will last five to 10 years.

Twilley said one problem is the speakers in the ceiling that cause feedback when volume is increased.  There has been discussion about installing new units, so if someone isn’t close enough to the microphone, the volume can be increased during the broadcast, he said.

Having City Council meetings in the fire hall was mentioned and Twilley said Comcast would have to be asked “long in advance.” He said he would meet with Comcast officials and City Administrator Tom Stevenson said he’d like to also attend. Stevenson also said maximum capacity in the fire hall conference room is only 50 to 60.

There was talk about installing better lighting and “getting rid of these overhead lights that are shooting down and giving you guys raccoon eyes,” Twilley told council members.

Council President Jack Heath called for a definite plan for upgrade, but Twilley said more research is needed.

“Another big issue for us is, we’ve got to know where PAC 14 is going to be.  I don’t know of any changes, but they are always talking about moving us downtown. I’m just saying that’s another question,” he said.

Mitchell said she has heard the ideal location for PAC 14 would be across from the Gallery Building in Downtown Salisbury, to allow more room. Twilley said there could be available space at Salisbury University, and that he should know for sure in six to eight months.

He said he expected the cost for enhancement discussed at Monday’s meeting to be more than the $3,500 estimate he received from a technological expert. Some equipment is aging and was donated by Salisbury University, so it might not be compatible with new technology, he said.

Although he would like to have direct stream, he but said PAC 14 can’t even upgrade to high definition for at least three years, under the agreement with Comcast.

Mitchell joked she wouldn’t want “too high of definition, thank you very much.”


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