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New Berlin may be more in tune with West Allis' Channel 14

Media center considers move from West Allis

July 17, 2012

West Allis - After 30 years in West Allis, the Community Media Center known as Channel 14 may move New Berlin.

Because of the loss of public access funding tied to recent state legislation, Channel 14 says it can no longer afford its space in downtown West Allis, prompting it to look for a new location for its studio.

The city of West Allis has offered to let the station continue to covering community events such as West Allis Ala Carte with government access funding and equipment. But that would cut out all public access shows and the voice of regular people, which is the point of public access, said Sharon Rhode, president of the Channel 14 board of directors.

The city of West Allis turned down its request for additional funding to maintain Channel 14's existing operations, and while the city of New Berlin isn't offering any funding, the New Berlin School District may have space available for a token amount.

On Monday, New Berlin school and Channel 14 officials toured Eisenhower Middle/High School as a possible location for a studio.

"It looks like a really good place," Rhode said. "It's definitely looking good for us in New Berlin."

Channel 14 will look at other sites in New Berlin, as well.

Almost as a thank-you, the Channel 14 cameras were rolling at the New Berlin Fourth of July parade, instead of at the West Allis parade as has been the case for decades. Coincidentally, the Community Media Center recently started broadcasting to New Berlin.

"When we did their parade, they loved it," she said.

While it's still fairly early in the process, it appears that the New Berlin schools would be a better fit for studio space than the West Allis-West Milwaukee Schools, which would have banned religious or political comment shows and which requires the superintendent to approve everything, Rhode said.

Even if the station moves to New Berlin, West Allis residents would still be able do shows at the new studio, she said.

At least cable channel 14 hasn't gone dark, as had been feared. The media center is still broadcasting events and taped shows, though it did have to give up the studio. Channel 14 will stay in its current quarters through August. In the meantime, officials are taking inventory to see what equipment will go to New Berlin or be sold if the move falls through, Rhode said.

The media center is continuing its fundraising, either to pay for a move or for its space in West Allis, if a deal can be worked out somewhere. Checks made out to the Community Media Center may be sent to the center at 7210 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, WI 53214. Donations also can be made online at the center's website,wacmc.org.

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