Eau Claire (WQOW) – The future of watching local government meetings on TV could be in jeopardy after a former employee of the company that streams them said many of them quit Monday.
Valley Media Works, formerly known as Chippewa Valley Community Television, has broadcast local meetings and events for more than 40 years. They currently stream the Eau Claire City Council meetings.
The company lost two-thirds of its funding 11 years ago when Wisconsin lawmakers freed cable TV companies and their customers from having to support local access channels. Since then, they have relied on donations and revenue from the events they cover to stay in business.
In the last year, Valley Media Works previously tried to purchase the former Fire Station 10 for $365,000. As we reported, they were unable to get enough funding by the closing date, and had to back out.
A former employee, who didn’t want us to use his name, claimed their paychecks started to bounce 11 months ago. He said earlier this month, workers brought their concerns to company leadership. He believes those concerns weren’t well-received, so he and the others felt it was time to go. “I feel relieved in the sense of not having to deal with the stress of not being paid or the uncertainty of that,” he said. “And I’m heartbroken at losing the job that I absolutely loved. It’s my passion. It’s what I do for a living.”
We reached out to the Valley Media Works board president, who declined to comment. The executive director hasn’t returned our calls.
City Council President Terry Weld said so far, he is not aware of any changes in coverage of local meetings. However, he said the resignations just happened Monday, so he has a lot more to learn about the situation.