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Voice in The Valley

Tired of seeing San Bernardino and Simi Valley portrayed in a negative light on Los Angeles newscasts, 15 local municipal governments and California State University-San Bernardino took the initiative and did what any self-respecting community should do: They started a local newscast.

Known as the Inland California Television Network (ICTN), the network has been on local cable systems since November, with its nightly newscast also broadcast on local PBS station KVCR(TV) San Bernardino. The university received the right to manage the local cable access channel from 7 to 11 p.m. every night in 1997, housing the operation within KCSB-TV San Bernardino, a local channel broadcasting public, educational and government access programming. But, in 2002, the network decided to take on the biggest challenge: a local newscast.

"We were producing local programming and wondered if it would work on a grander scale," says Executive Director Cindi Pringle. A federal grant for $1.2 million to get new equipment and a news team of eight employees later, the nightly newscast is up and running.

"We've been corralling stories about the region that are of interest to our residents," she says. "This is one of the last remaining areas of affordable housing in Southern California, but there isn't a variety of media voices that reflect the issues and the area the residents call home."

ICTN ensures that those issues are heard: Each of the 15 municipalities also has a one-hour weekly program that can be produced about the specific community.

With only 20 staff members, the channel is lean, but the use of digital technologies, such as a ParkerVision CR16 production system and an Avid iNews system, is keeping the staff happy. And area residents are finally seeing local news coverage that doesn't portray the region negatively.

Atlanta-based systems integrator Digital System Technology handled the digital buildout, which took about nine months for construction and testing. Besides the Avid and ParkerVision gear, the facility boasts a Ross Talia 64x64 router.

The network's news department is an example of efficiency with only eight employees, many of them pulling double duty. There is one reporter and a news director who doubles as anchor, plus a co-anchor and a sports anchor, both of whom double as one-man bands.

Though small, ICTN does think big. The network's newscast taps into national and international news as a member of CNN Newsource and AP Newswire. Helping stretch the network's resources further still is an agreement with two local newspapers, the San Bernardino Sun
and the Simi Valley Daily Bulletin. The papers share their story rundowns with ICTN, reporters for interviews, and still photos in case the newscast can't get video.