Our Opinion: A loss for downtown

February 21, 2002

KECY TV, a staple in downtown El Centro for many years, will be closing its local operation soon. Station officials say the move is necessary because of technical difficulties resulting from the change to digital signals and problems tied to trying to get those signals to penetrate the moisture and sand between the Valley and KECY's Black Mountain transmitter.

According to station officials, to adequately provide service they must have their master controls east of the sand dunes — that means Yuma, home to competitors KYMA and KSWT. The move is understandable, but it is an unfortunate loss for El Centro, the city's downtown and the Valley as a whole.

For many years the station was the Valley's only one, at one time bringing to viewers the chance to participate locally in things such as the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association and, for a few short years, the Children's Miracle Network. Until its newscasts ended nearly 10 years ago, the station offered the Valley's only locally generated TV news programming.


The move not only takes the station to Yuma but leaves another hole in the city's downtown — one we think will be difficult to fill. We hope that is not the case, but the facility was designed as a TV station, complete with a studio. Unless a business requiring a studio and other such amenities chooses to move in, a new resident would likely have to redesign the facility. That would be a costly venture.

At a time when El Centro is upgrading its downtown, hoping to entice people to spend time there and spend money, another large vacancy won't help matters.

KECY promises it will continue to offer adequate service and, if the change to digital signals causes problems, the station should do all it can to make sure delivery of service to the Valley is not marred.

We urge KECY management to work with city officials to get the building filled as soon as possible. KECY managers say they will continue to play a role in the Valley, and helping the city fill the vacancy is one way the station can do that.

We also are concerned about the loss of jobs. Station officials said the 20 El Centro employees have been offered the chance to transfer to Yuma. That's a noble offer, but it's likely all 20 employees will not be able to make that move. Although less than an hour's drive from El Centro, it could be difficult for some people to make the commute, especially if they have families.

KECY will be a missed part of El Centro's downtown. We hope company officials stay true to their word and find ways to continue to be active in the Valley.

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