Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 11, 2021
For many years the City of Fernandina has listed the Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) Channel Committee as one of its Advisory Committees. The PEG Channel (Comcast channel 264) is operated by the City of Fernandina Beach and serves Nassau Counties Public, Educational, and Government needs.
The purpose is allocated by Comcast Corporation per the City’s Franchise Agreement. The goal of the PEG Channel is to provide a means and opportunity for citizens to become informed about City, County and school services, events, regulations, and also decisions being made by their representatives, both elected and appointed.
The Committee has not been active for several years, leading to the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) recommendation to abolish the committee in 2020. However, in response to pleas from some citizens, the FBCC agreed to consider allowing the Committee to continue. provided that the supporters provide the FBCC with a business plan and an indication of future plans for broadcasting.
Taylor Owenby, representing the group interested in resuscitating the PEG Committee responded to the FBCC’s directives during the January 5, 2021 FBCC meeting. The FBCC accepted the group’s strategic plan, cautioned that the committee had not been budgeted for the current fiscal year, and appointed members: Taylor Owenby, Julie Ferreira, Judie Mackle and Megan Stewart. Mary Hamburg will serve as staff liaison.
During his presentation, Owenby indicated that the group intends to partner with community groups to develop, produce, and place content in accordance with the city’s programming guidelines. He said, “We will act as conduit and platform with local educational systems to promore the local television station to student media producers, who may gain opportunities to have their work broadcase and gain production experience in a broadcast environment.” He went on to note that Fernandina Beach is a city rich in opportunity, with a variety of natural and cultural elements that can be shared with the PEG channel viewers.
Part of the committee’s strategic plan calls for securing strategic community partners and inviting citizens to join the regular meetings on social media platforms. Examples of the type of broadcasting they would produce include a program to highlight current events happening locally and highllighting various aspects of history, including the 8 Flags story.
Owenby indicated that start up costs were about $7,250, but that the committee would seek that from its community partners, not the City.
Commissioners gave the group a cautious go-ahead, stressing the importance of adherence to all applicable rules and laws governing City Committees, especially public meeting laws. The committee will be faced with the challenge of producing content while adhering to Sunshine Law requirements that all meetings of 2 or more committee members be noticed and that minutes be taken at all meetings.
The PEG Channel is only available to Comcast subscribers. City meetings are broadcast on that channel as well as other information of interest to City residents.