by Greg Vandermause

Five years ago, the cities of Mankato and North Mankato had a growing public access problem. Up on the hill, Bethany Lutheran College’s reputable production studio needed a platform to showcase their student’s work. Thus, when the city of Mankato staff approached Bethany in early 2014 to discuss moving their public access station to Bethany’s campus, Bethany staff was all ears. After 15 months of meetings, equipment upgrades, and new workflows, the channels came to life under the new name of KTV in March of 2015.

There were two major components to starting this partnership. First, Bethany was adamant that tech improvements needed to be made if they were going to operate the channels. Secondly, the city staff had to assure the city councils that this was a solid solution to their current issues. The city council unanimously approved the agreement in July of 2014.

Mankato’s PEG channels began in 1981. Public Access TV entities typically consist of three channels: a Public channel, an Education channel, and a Government channel, commonly referred to as PEG. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) states that, “PEG channels are not mandated by federal law, rather they are a right given to the franchising authority, which it may choose to exercise.” Many communities have franchise agreements in place because these channels are a great way for the local government, schools, and the public to share information.

Source: Mankato City Council Minutes, created by Greg Vandermause using timetoast.com

Moving a public entity to a private institution comes with its set of challenges, but city staff and Bethany worked through them to come up with an agreement that works for both parties. Many of these concerns were discussed through open forum meetings and an open house to celebrate the newly rebranded channels.

For Bethany, operating KTV continues to help build the studio’s reputation in the community. Bethany’s production studio, which operates out of Honsey Hall, began in 2001, and has been growing ever since. The studio specializes in sports broadcasting through their relationship with Minnesota State University, Mankato as well as its annual Speechless Film Festival.

As Bethany and the city celebrate four years of KTV this March, it is evident the relationship has been a success. Through the installation of fiber optics to Bethany, city council and school board meetings air live every week. Community members and organizations can submit weekly content online via file transfer rather than DVD or tape. Local candidate forums were held in Bethany’s studio this past October. Bethany benefits by increased participating with KTV, which gives the college a chance to showcase theatre recordings, local sports, concerts and faculty talks. We look forward to continued benefits from this arrangement.