The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 3, 2014

TV panel nears recommendation to city

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — An advisory panel developing the framework of PEGASYS successor Enid Television Network is nearing its first goal — to issue a broad recommendation to the city commission before the new budget year begins in July.

In recent meetings, though, members have discussed a possible conflict of interest with industry professionals serving on the board.

One option the panel may recommend is for ETN to focus more on broadcasting and studio production rather than sending out its own photographers to cover events. That essentially would require local groups who want coverage on ETN to either shoot video themselves or hire a private firm.

There are two such professionals who serve on the advisory board: Jack Quirk of KJ Productions and Jeff Hoopingarner of Raptor Media Group.

Hoopingarner said shooting community events is outside his wheelhouse.

“I do high-end production, so most of that stuff that would air on ETN is probably not stuff I really want to do,” he said.

Plus these events, many of which are volunteer or nonprofit based, may not be available to afford his services, he said.

In a recent meeting, the advisory board talked about creating and maintaining a list of TV production experts on a city-owned website. Board member Mark Keefer agreed that deferring to professionals is the better way to go, but he said the board should be careful about it.

“It’s all about perspective. And when we make that recommendation, then the public looks at it and there’s two of those people on this board, it’s going to not look right,” he said. “It’s going to look weird.”

Enid City Commission appointed members to the Public Access Television Advisory Board in February. Other members include community volunteers and people with previous experience at PEGASYS and in media.

Quirk said he wants to make sure there are limits on who can use ETN, its equipment and personnel, namely by businesses looking for free marketing.

“I have a problem with them using city equipment and city employees to produce something that conflicts with what I do for a living,” he said.

He also acknowledges the perceived conflict of a public board he serves on promoting the private industry in which he works.

“I can see that. To be honest I don’t have an answer other than open it up to more than just us. Make it a statewide proposal or something like that,” he said. “I assume we wouldn’t be the ones making the decision to get the job, either.”

During the meeting when the issue was first raised, one board member said an ETN-developed list of Enid-area video production companies should be comprehensive.

“I don’t think the city of Enid needs to get into the business of referrals,” Hoopingarner said. “You can do a Google search and find some people.”

The advisory board has no voting power. Enid City Commission makes final decisions regarding the scope, operations and funding of ETN.

Commentator ends show

At a Public Access Television Advisory Board meeting this week, city of Enid PR Director Steve Kime said a long-time commentator has ended his show indefinitely.

Byrin Carr recorded his latest hour-long “Speaking Out — I’m Back” program, which was broadcast once before it drew complaints. The serial program previously was shown on PEGASYS and most recently, ETN public access.

Kime played a portion Carr’s latest recording to an advisory board meeting last week. In it, he made remarks about a former prosecutor. The comments, members of the advisory board decided, crossed the line of public decency.

Kime said he would tell Carr to edit the offending portions out or pull the episode entirely. Kime also said Carr called this week to apologize.

“It was just a spirit of humbleness and apologetics that I’d never heard before. It was genuine and I just really admire him,” Kime said. “He said he wasn’t going to air another program and he was just wanting to move on. I don’t know the guy, but I appreciate his spirit and his willingness.”