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The District of Columbia Network Is D.C.’s Rebranded Government Channel

New programming reflects the rebranding effort

John Avery, a District of Columbia Network supervisory videographer, is on the DCN set. WASHINGTON—The District of Columbia’s Office of Cable Television, the agency that administers Washington’s public, education and government channels, is rebranding the city’s government channel, the District of Columbia Network.

In addition to overseeing DCN, formally known as TV-16, OCT administers TV-13, the city’s public access channel, and the District Knowledge Network, the city’s education channel.

Since August of 2012, OCT—which is also tasked with general regulation of cable television in Washington—has been implementing the rebranding of DCN. “The rebrand of the channel was a collaborative process involving feedback from District residents, government and education programming experts, and the OCT team,” said Washington Mayor Vincent Gray. “Together, we created a product that is informative, educational and entertaining.”

The rebranding effort is expect to be complete when both OCT and DCN move into a new facility in northeast Washington that once housed the studios of the cable network Black Entertainment Television, said Eric Richardson, the director of OCT. Like DCN’s rebranding, the building is undergoing a refurbishment that is expected to take several months. DCN and OCT are expected to move into the reconstructed facility by August.

Top: Eric Richardson, the director of the District of
Columbia’s Office of Cable Television, discusses production matters with Brenda Mallory, seated in the foreground, a supervisory audiovisual production specialist, and Karen Tolson, OCT’s director of television programming.

Middle: On duty in the District of Columbia Network’s production booth, are, seated from left, Nicholas Dorsey, an audiovisual production specialist, and Maurice Reed, a supervisory audiovisual production specialist.

Bottom: On the District of Columbia Network’s set, from left, are Tamika Felder, a producer, and Ferman Patterson, a supervisory producer.NEW PROGRAMMING

DCN is not waiting to provide new programming. It began broadcasting new productions on Sept. 5, 2012, placing an emphasis on government, public affairs and lifestyle programming, according to Richardson.

The new programs include:

• “The Sound,” DCN’s newest arts program that profiles some of the city’s most talented musicians
• “The District Dish,” a lifestyle talk show hosted by Kate Michael, a former Miss D.C. and author of the “K Street Kate” blog
• “The Kalb Report,” a public affairs series hosted by journalist Marvin Kalb
• “Uptown/Downtown,” a new series providing feature stories about people, communities and businesses in the District

In addition to its regular programming, DCN plans to continue to broadcast special events as they happen, including aspects of President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

For past inaugurations, the channel has “done a wide variety of things” including magazine style pieces that show local preparations for the inauguration, Richardson said. However, for 2013, DCN planned live coverage, with correspondents in different spaces, as well as some pre-produced package pieces, Richardson said. DCN also arranged a remote production site located on a viewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Wilson Building (Washington’s city hall), and Omarosa Manigault, a former political consultant and reality game show contestant, was hired as the guest host, he said.

While covering the inauguration is exciting, this only occurs every four years. More typical are live events that affect city residents such as Washington’s high school football championship game—the Turkey Bowl—which is played on Thanksgiving Day. The District Knowledge Network, the school-run education channel, covered the first Turkey Bowl but sent only one camera, Richardson said.

When DCN made the decision to cover the game, it also decided to send a full remote production team. “Getting the staff to do a full production on Thanksgiving Day is like, okay this can’t happen,” Richardson said. But after the first broadcast, DCN staff became enthusiastic about covering the game every year, he added.

Other events DCN has broadcast live include Citizens’ Summits held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington, at which citizens present their ideas to the mayor how they wanted the city’s budget to be spent, said Maurice Reed, audio visual specialist supervisor. He said citizens want appropriations to reflect their priorities.

Broadcasting the summit live made a difference, said Karen Tolson, OCT’s director of television programming. “We’ve done up to five Citizens’ Summits, but the last summit was my favorite, because it was live,” she said. By broadcasting the summit live, DCN was “able to bring more elements into it,” she said.

“We brought in commentators, and viewers got a better sense of what was going on, [and] the direction that the citizens wanted to take with the allocation of resources in the city,” she said. “And it was fun.”


DC Office of Cable Television: