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Our View: Can’t the county broadcast everyone’s cat videos, too?

April 23, 2019 GMT

Back when the Mohave County Television District was formed more than 35 years ago, broadcasting was a whole different game than now.

The taxpayer-funded district aimed to fill a void in a rural area that didn’t have much access to that day’s big thing: cable TV. With dozens of transmitters in the county, the district still rebroadcasts signals from licensed stations to anyone who wants it.

These days, the popularity of the district may be more due to today’s it thing: unplugging from cable or satellite TV. Coupled with a few internet-propelled services, the tv district lets people stay informed with news channels and receive a variety of entertainment channels.

Last week, the county Supervisors told its staff to explore ways to allow local, non-licensed “television stations” to offer programming to be rebroadcast by the district.

It’s an idea floated for a few years and appears pushed by a business known as Laughlin Channel 2. It’s an internet-based station that, according to its website, was booted from Suddenlink’s cable service after falling behind in payments to the cable provider.

It now needs a new way to reach some viewers.

It shouldn’t be the county’s television district. The district is set up to rebroadcast programming from Federal Communication Commission licensed stations. Cable and web-based stations are not licensed by the FCC.

It strongly appears that should the county desire to add Channel 2 or similar stations to its rebroadcast mix, either the station or the county would need an FCC station license. That’s expensive and time-consuming.

The county shouldn’t be messing around with that, even if it accepts the idea that this web site — and in fairness, any other web site in the county — deserves to be rebroadcast on the taxpayers’ dime.

This discussion further begs the question of the district’s future. Arguably, it would serve county residents if it focused on the internet, the place where people can select whatever “channels” or information or entertainment sources they wish. That’s a big leap and the technology is questionable for that effort to pan out.

As it is, the district continues to serve a useful purpose. At a cost of around $5 per year or less to average homeowners, it doesn’t cost a lot nor does its expense take away from other county programs.

The county should let the district continue to do that without heading down an expensive, no-win road that will let anyone in the county with a camera and a domain demand the county broadcast their original content cat videos and selfies.

— Today’s News-Herald