Slocan Valley TV Society forges ahead with upgrades

by Jan McMurray, Valley Voice Newspaper March 9, 2017

The Slocan Valley TV Society replaced the equipment on its towers and now offers a high quality, reliable service, according to Derek Murphy, secretary/ treasurer of the society board. The taxpayer-funded service is provided to residents from Slocan to Passmore who live within line of sight of the society’s towers, and includes four TV channels and two radio stations.

“We’ve gone from being unsure whether we could continue the service to now knowing we can continue indefinitely,” said Murphy in an interview.

An audit of the equipment in fall 2014 revealed that the old analogue equipment was failing. In 2015, a survey of the residents in the service area (Slocan to Passmore) showed a high level of support for the service, and for continuing to fund the service with the same level of taxation. The society receives $15,000 in tax dollars every year, via a tax-funded grant from the RDCK. The RDCK collects the tax on behalf of the society. Slocan Valley TV Society forges ahead with upgrades Murphy reports that in 2016, the board replaced the old analogue equipment with digital equipment at a cost of $15,000 per tower and a total cost of $50,000. “We now broadcast the same quality TV you’d get from satellite,” he said.

Of the three towers the society now maintains, the central one needs to be replaced. Columbia Wireless internet service provider also has equipment on the central tower. “That’s our next challenge,” said Murphy. “It represents a significant risk to our customers, and to Columbia Wireless’s customers as well.”

The next step is to hire an engineer to determine the specifications for the new tower. Murphy says that will be done in the next couple of months. Once the central tower is replaced, which Murphy estimates will take one to two years, the society will look at expanding the TV service to eight channels. “The costs have come down on the equipment, so we feel we may be able to add four channels, and we think eight channels would be very attractive for many people.”

Part of the vision for the TV Society in the future is to assist with the need for a shared emergency services channel for the valley. “It’s very early days but we’re exploring the possibilities of using our towers to support a shared emergency service channel,” said Murphy. Murphy adds that the free Shaw satellite TV service ends in 2018.
Those who don’t want to pay for the satellite service will have the TV Society service to fall back on. “There’s no signing up for the service. You simply get it if you live between Slocan and Passmore and have a TV from 2009 or newer. If you have an older TV, you have to buy a piece of equipment that costs $30 to $50 to get the service.”

The TV Society now broadcasts CBS, ABC, Global and Knowledge, as well as two radio stations. Murphy added that CBC delivers its own signal and is also available at no charge.
Call Derek at 226-7182 for more information.