WTCI requesting $250K from city to start 24/7 local-programming channel

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WTCI is asking the Chattanooga City Council for $250,000 to develop a multicast channel with 24/7 local programming, “Voyager.”

Station President Paul Grove told Current that the station will use the sum as seed money to attract additional foundation and corporate support. He expects a council vote on the funding later this summer.

On its 45.2 channel, WTCI currently runs Create, state legislature coverage and regional high-school and college sports. Grove wants to expand that to offer live coverage of city councils in the region and their committee work, host issue-oriented town-hall meetings at the station for broadcast, launch a half-hour weekly arts and culture show and run local documentaries — all in addition to the five ongoing weekly series the station already produces.

Grove sees the channel as an important community engagement service for the region, as the 16-county area that includes Chattanooga crafts its first-ever 40-year growth plan. “That’s a big thing for this community and this region,” Grove said, “and we think we can play a vital role in that.”

In researching the project, the station didn’t see anything similar to Voyager within the PBS system. The channel will go beyond the typical public-access fare of live city-council meetings. Content also will be accessible across multiple platforms and via social media.

WTCI is open to outside content for Voyager, Grove said, but will maintain final editorial control.