On November 29, 2023

Okemo Valley TV explores a multi-media approach

Seeks community’s interest in local public radio

 Okemo Valley TV, the community access TV station and media center, has been expanding beyond cable for many years. Like its 23 “sister stations” across the Green Mountain State, Okemo Valley TV was originally formed as a Public, Educational, & Government (PEG) Access cable TV station. “PEG Access” TV channels were established through the federal Communications Act of 1984. The provision for these channels was in response to the build-out of cable television. Cable companies were being given licenses to build out their infrastructure along public roadways and other rights-of-way, in order to bring this new technology to the masses. PEG channels became part of the compensation given back to local communities in exchange for these licenses and using public rights-of-way. In Vermont, the growth of PEG (otherwise known as “community TV”) ramped up during the 1990s. Okemo Valley TV was formed in 2001 (it was then known as LPCTV, which stood for “Ludlow-Plymouth-Cavendish Television”).

Over the years, Okemo Valley TV has experienced a slow but steady expansion of its services. Today, as with its colleagues, it is embracing all sorts of media platforms and uses. For starters, the station’s two TV channels are not just on cable; they are streamed live on its website at okemovalley.tv, and on its free, downloadable app on “over-the-top” (OTT) streaming platforms: Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Google Play, and iOS. So now its video on demand of local programming can be found on the station’s website, its You Tube channel, as well as the streaming app.

While all of its work has been in visual media, Okemo Valley TV is beginning to explore other, non-visual forms of media as well. Executive Director Patrick Cody stresses the use of the word media in the station’s mission and goals, which states: “to provide the community with access to media technology” and to serve as a primary media resource. 

“That was by design, as we look ahead. We want to be able to provide whatever media services that the community wants,” Cody added.

For the third time in nearly a quarter Century, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is accepting applications for new Low Power FM (LPFM) community radio licenses. This is for non-commercial, community-based radio programming, and must be operated by a nonprofit organization. There are several LPFM stations operating in Vermont already, but not in the immediate area around Okemo Valley TV. There is WOOL FM in Bellows Falls, which started as LPFM but is now Full Power community radio. 

Cody points to the similarities between the missions of community radio and community TV and sees a lot of opportunity to bring them together under one roof. Okemo Valley TV is now looking to survey community members to gauge the enthusiasm for community radio in the Black River Valley and Okemo region. 

“At the most fundamental level, we are in the public media industry,” said Cody, noting that he counts among Okemo Valley TV’s colleagues and media partners organizations such as Vermont Public, VTDigger, and community radio stations like WOOL-FM in Bellows Falls. “As an established nonprofit media organization in the community, we are likely in the best position to file an application, assuming there’s enough interest. That’s what we’re trying to find out.” 

The LPFM application filing window is from Dec. 6-13. Submitting an application is non-binding, meaning there is no obligation to start a station by merely applying.

For more information and to take the survey, go to Okemo Valley TV’s website: okemovalley.tv.

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