It all started in 1978
FCTV's roots date back to 1978, when a forward-thinking group of citizens and City Council negotiated the inclusion of a government access channel in the franchise agreement with United Cable Television Corporation.
Soon after, original broadcasting equipment consisting of a single, fish-eye lens camera and a video switcher was installed in the Council Chambers. The City began its tradition of broadcasting live Council and Planning Commission meetings.
In 1985, the equipment was partially upgraded to provide better quality video, but the single-camera operation was maintained. A character generator was also purchased to allow for news, information and events about Foster City to be transmitted 24x7 to viewers.
Around that time, the Foster City Police Department, using volunteers and equipment lawfully seized as part of drug busts or other crimes, began to produce a weekly show called "Crime Line". This half-hour show primarily featured pre-recorded programs on crime prevention and law enforcement services. The community began to capture the vision for the City's Government Access Channel.
New Cable Franchise Agreement Helps Take Channel 27 to New Levels
In 1993, the City negotiated a renewed franchise agreement with United Cable's successor, TCI, which included a sizeable grant to fund new equipment for the channel. In late 1996 and early 1997, new equipment was purchased, which included 3 remote-control cameras, a control booth, and video editing equipment. A student intern was hired to operate the equipment. In May 1997, a new level of quality was set for the live broadcasts of Council, Planning Commission, and Parks & Recreation committee meetings as the new equipment was used.
Later that year, the City produced shows for the election season called "Meet the Candidates", to introduce the community to candidates running for open seats on the City Council, the elementary and high school districts, and the community college district.
A Station With a New Identity
The Council and the community began to see the greater benefits of this visual medium in getting out more and better information about and to the community. In 1998, Council approved Stage 1 of the Channel 27 Program Plan. Stage 1 authorized expenditure of an additional grant from TCI's successor, AT&T Cable Services, to acquire an automated playback system, enhanced editing equipment, and an enhanced bulletin board system. The Program Plan also called for the channel to create its own identity and the name "FCTV" was born.
In 1998 and 1999, FCTV was used to get information out on the Government Center project and as a means of soliciting input into the project. Various interactive Town Hall meetings were held that allowed the public at home to interact during the meeting via e-mail, fax, and phone.
By 1999, pre-recorded programs were acquired (many at little or no cost) and began to air on FCTV. The enhanced bulletin board system was integrated into the Channel's operations, allowing for much livelier graphics and video.
FCTV Begins Original Productions and Takes to the Web
In early 2000, in an effort to explain changes in the Fire department's operations countywide, FCTV produced its first original production "Foster City Fire: On the Job". This 17-minute feature was met with many compliments from the community and the City Council. The Council prioritized the City's public information efforts, and FCTV had a vital role in that effort.
As a result, for FY2000-2001, the Council funded Phase 2 of FCTV's Program Plan desiring originally produced shows by and about Foster City. A Video Producer was hired to oversee production of the original shows for the public and to help oversee the day-to-day operations of the station.
In July 2000, FCTV hit the Web! The City wanted to reach out to more residents than just AT&T cable subscribers in town. As a result, FCTV began to stream its broadcasts over the internet. Many people, wherever they were connected to the Internet, could pull up FCTV LIVE to connect to its daily programming.
Video-On-Demand, an added feature on the station’s webpage, puts forward selected programs at the push of a button. The link went LIVE in 2007 bringing timely shows dealing with the local news, highlighting the Council Meetings, and offering exclusive productions fresh from the editing room. Any type of broadband offers a great viewing experience.
Tough Times Impact FCTV
In July 2011, the City was forced to reduce the staffing of FCTV due to budget cuts. When additional staff left in May 2012, the City decided to move to a contracting model and hired KMVT to provide Video Technician services to air and rebroadcast City Council and Planning Commission meetings and maintain the station bulletin board as well as provide technical expertise to keep the station running optimally.