Has DGOV, the official television channel for the city of Durango grown as obsolete as the Linotype machine? You’re watching the “Local News Network” brought to you by the law firm of Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q. I’m Hannah Robertson. The city of Durango may scrap DGOV-TV, its cable television and over the air television station after a search for a new Programming Director failed to produce any applicants. DGOV-TV had been broadcasting local government programming including city council meetings, library story time and a community bulletin board until May when Programming Specialist, Victor Locke retired. No new programming has appeared on the station since then. Durango Media and Community Engagement Director, Tom Sluis, now is weighing whether the television station is worth the money the city spends on programming.
I had advertised the job for about four months and just got crickets because it’s a very specialized field. You got to have a really in depth knowledge of the software, the hardware, the transmitters up on smelter, these racks of computer equipment and networking and to Victor’s credit, this was something that he was the driving force behind it. And I think it was really a labor of love for him but he gave the city a great deal. And so, now that we’re trying to replace that institutional knowledge it’s just, you’re looking at 90 to $100,000 for people who have broadcast skills. And then you put add-in benefits and you’re easily into six figures, you know? 120, 130, maybe $150,000.
Sluis posted an online survey on the city’s website last month, asking city residents whether they knew about or watched the television channel. At the end of June, the survey had received about 150 responses. 70% of which indicated that residents either did not know about or did not watch the station. In contrast, the city’s website receives about 1.5 million page views a year.
What’s happening with DGOV mirrors the national trends. And over the year broadcast for the past 20, 30 years have been decreasing as people cut the cable and they go to the streaming services. They go for Netflix and they go straight to have their router beaming their dedicated shows right to their TV. And as a result, fewer people are watching over-the-air broadcast. And when I was explaining the story to the Herald, I was telling the reporter, “Hey, this is two rabbit ears.” And I felt old ’cause suddenly he’s like, “What’s a rabbit ears?” Right? And I was like, “Okay.” And it’s just very symptomatic of what we’re dealing with.
If DGOV does go dark, city council meetings and other programming will continue to be streamed through the webpage on Zoom and archived on the city’s YouTube channel for later viewing.
It’s clear where the demand is in terms of just the viewer feedback. And our goal is like, “How do we most effectively engage the citizens of Durango in the most fiscally responsible manner that we can?”
Sluis said the DGOV survey will remain live for a little bit longer. To respond, visit durangogov.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the “Local News Network”. I’m Hannah Robertson.