The Fort St. James T.V. and Radio Society will be holding their annual general meeting on Nov. 23 at 7 pm in the library at Fort St. James Secondary School. All members of the community are invited.
The society is a non-profit organization completely run by volunteers. It provides over 30 television stations and six radio stations to the region.
Dave Birdi, president of the society, says that it’s all about providing service to the community and responding to everyone’s need.
“This continues to be our mandate,” Birdi says. “We want to provide service to those in rural areas as well.”
The society, which came together more than 30 years ago, has seen many changes over with years. Chester Hiebert, director of the society, says there wasn’t much T.V. available back in the day.
“We pretty much just had one channel. Yes, it was very exotic,” Hiebert said.
But since then, times did change from satellite technology in the 80’s, to analog channels and then to digital technology five years ago.
“It was very challenging because of ranges and signalling but that has improved drastically with digital technology. The signal is stronger, more versatile and there is less interference” Birdi said.
Today, the signal covers a vast range with four towers covering Dog Creek to Pinchi Lake.
The community as a whole contributes to these services and the channels reflect the community’s needs from gardening and hunting channels to children’s channels.
“Our programming is diverse. It’s all based on what the community wants, it’s completely driven by the community,” Hiebert said.
An average house holder in Fort St. James pays about $5 for service monthly.
Bob Hughes is the secretary/treasurer and says that the society would not be what it is today without support from the community. “We are always looking for new ways of providing service and there isn’t a company in town that hasn’t helped out,” Hughes said.
The society, the largest if its kind in Canada, is always striving to find new ways to meet the community’s needs.
“We are always going forward with technology. People can access free Wi-Fi service in various locations in town and we provide 31 television channels now. We are hoping to add two more high definition channels by the end of the year,” Birdi said.
Today the society seems to have fewer meetings and is more focused on responding to requests from the community.
“Tell us what you need and it gets done. We have willing volunteers. It always gets done,” Hiebert said.