The City of Orem is moving in on HBO.
Though it is not planning to broadcast movies, the city has begun to use Channel 3 on local cable stations for community news and information."It's really in its beginning stages right now," said Stewart Taylor, Orem's assistant city manager, who has been put in charge of the project. "And it doesn't reach everybody, but it is one way to get information out to the residents."
Since September, the city has been broadcasting City Council and Planning Commission agendas, information on the County Commission and a community calendar, which includes holiday schedules of garbage pickup and snow removal.
"We have had people call and ask to put things on the community calendar," Taylor said. There is no advertising yet, but it is a possibility for the future.
The city decided to begin the service when it renewed its franchise contract with Insight Cablevision.
"The 1984 Cable Act allows cities to use government access channels," Taylor said. The city can use it exclusively, but the cable company may request time that is not being used.
Right now, Orem is using the channel 24 hours a day for its approximately 5,200 cable subscribers. The programming is in characters, like an infotext.
Taylor said the next step is to add audio. The city may consider letting out bids to radio stations.
"There have been a few service problems and the channel hasn't been consistent, but we are working on that," he said. "When we get calls about an empty screen, at least we know that people are watching because they knew to call the city about the problem."
Shannon Mathews, electrical technician for Insight Cablevision, said the arrangement is good for his company because it allows more access to possible cable subscribers.
"We also have better communications with the city," he said.
According to Mathews, the company is also pursuing the possibility of expanding the service to Pleasant Grove and American Fork. "It's only talk right now," he said.
Charmaine Childs, Pleasant Grove city recorder, said the city is writing up a contract with Insight that would allow city access to a cable channel.
"But that is a couple of years away," she said. "There is not a lot of interest in it right now."
According to Vicki Hudson of TCI Cablevision, Provo's cable company, Provo is not using any channels right now and nothing has yet been discussed for the future.
Taylor said Orem officials welcome suggestions about the channel and "we hope that it will become a channel that people will want to tune in to."
In the future, Taylor said the city may look into broadcasting live city council meetings, city events, city-owned educational programming and programs produced by the city about Orem.
"We'd have to explore this with the City Council to decide if they wanted to move in that direction," Taylor said. Those interested in the cable channel may call the city at 224-7037.