Harpswell public access TV station seeks funds for digital upgrade

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HARPSWELL — The town’s community television station is making a fundraising push to keep its signal untethered and over the air.

From Dec. 1-20, Harpswell Community Broadcasting Corp. hopes to raise up to $5,000 to match a one-time offer from local philanthropist Al Moren.

Meeting the goal would bring the nonprofit station closer to the $60,000 it needs to purchase and install a digital broadcast transmitter by July 2015.

That’s when the Federal Communications Commission will require all low-power TV broadcast stations to convert from analog to digital broadcast signals.

Station Manager Donna Frisoli said the station has raised $31,000 since it began fundraising efforts last year.

An additional $80,000 was already raised to purchase new equipment and software in 2012 for the station’s studio at 10 Community Drive, she said.

Harpswell Community Television is a commercial-free, educational TV station broadcasting on UHF Channel 14.

While the station is also available for cable TV customers, Frisoli said the purpose of upgrading to a digital broadcast signal is to continue providing free, over-the-air service to residents who use digital antennas.

“It gives people the flexibility to choose the service that they want,” she said. “We originally went to broadcasting over the air because a lot of people didn’t have cable.”

And that makes the public access channel one of the few of its kind in the U.S. Frisoli said most public access channels are only available on cable.

“We’ve had a broadcast license for more than 13 years,” she said, “so we can offer everyone the same opportunity to watch their government at work, or (their) school at work, or put on a video about their event.”

Frisoli said she’s thankful for Moren’s $5,000 offer, which is not the first time the long-time, seasonal resident of Gun Point has been a benefactor for the station.

“We’re glad to have him helping,” she said.

Moren and his late wife, Sue Fisher, are also charitable supporters of the Orr’s Island Library, which completed a renovation and expansion project in August.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.