In an effort to bring the latest local information and resources to residents during the COVID-19 crisis, Montgomery College Television (MCTV) has led an effort and joined forces with the group of Montgomery County’s Public, Education and Government (PEG) organizations to launch the Corona Montgomery channel. This new cable channel connects community members to accurate, critical and timely information about county and community services, programs and other useful news. It also creates a direct communications channel for residents who do not have access to hi-speed internet and technology during this pandemic.
“Providing timely information to our residents in a culturally competent way has been a top priority for me throughout my tenure on the Council,” said Montgomery County councilmember Nancy Navarro, who serves as chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. “This effort has become critically important during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The new channel will expand on the work of the multicultural communications team that I spearheaded with Councilmember Albornoz and County Executive Elrich.”
Melissa Pace, MCTV director, agrees. “Montgomery County has an extremely diverse population,” she said. “This crisis has emphasized what we at Montgomery College, and Montgomery County Council and government, already know—that it is challenging to effectively and efficiently reach many of our constituents who do not speak English, or who speak it as a second language.”
Pace says the end of local print media outlets, such as The Gazette and The Sentinel, along with the digital divide between those who have broadband internet and computers, and those who don’t, make reaching all people more challenging.
This crisis has emphasized what we at Montgomery College, and Montgomery County Council and government, already know—that it is challenging to effectively and efficiently reach many of our constituents who do not speak English, or who speak it as a second language
“For many underserved groups in the community, there is a deficit of information. By working with local government, we are providing information in a way that is highly accessible to most people,” Pace said.
As the pandemic hit, Montgomery County designated teams to work on outreach and communication to a variety of groups, including multicultural and elderly populations. Pace volunteered MCTV’s standard definition cable channel 10 to be dedicated to Corona/COVID-related news in order to aggregate content quickly and conveniently, all in one place, and available 24 hours a day. MCTV staff reacted quickly by expanding channel scheduling capabilities, creating an easy mechanism for partner organizations, such as Montgomery County Public Schools, municipalities, and nonprofits, to share content, and by building a companion website.
Navarro says this type of collaboration among local cable operators should serve as a model for disseminating essential information about county government resources and community services during this pandemic and beyond.
The programming is available on channel 10 on Comcast, Verizon and RCN, and online at www.coronamontgomery.info for on-demand viewing and program schedule information. The website and channel primarily provide videos and local resources in English, such as helpful tips, the number of coronavirus cases, county council meetings, and stay at home stories. They also provide many videos in Spanish. MCTV is presently working with the County Council on expanding content in Amharic and French.
MCTV is a member of the Connect Montgomery Alliance which comprises seven Montgomery County Public, Education and Government (PEG) organizations.