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Jun. 20, 2014 7:37 am

Relaunched city TV station packs more cultural programming

CharmTV is going from boring to less boring — keeping city hearings but adding "network concepts from HGTV, Food Channel, Travel Channel with a focus on Baltimore," says its general manager.

Tasty Travels host Kate Beck pokes her head out of the Icedgems cupcake truck.

(Photo courtesy of CharmTV)

Baltimore city’s old public access television channel was a mix of city meetings and more city meetings. Sound dry? City officials agreed.

Next week, the city-run cable channel, TV25, will relaunch on Comcast as CharmTV. On Wednesday, station officials hosted a media event to highlight the new programming.

The station’s mission is to spotlight the essence of Baltimore,” CharmTV general manager Tonia Lee said in an email. “We will continue to provide government transparency but will offer a much broader set of content offerings for viewers.

“To reflect all that Baltimore has to offer we are introducing a new primetime programming block called Prime Engagement to also showcase fresh content that creatively highlights the essence of Baltimore,” Lee said.

CharmTV will inherit one piece of the old TV25 — city government hearings (including City Council and liquor board meetings) and other public information will still air live from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

But the prime time hours (8 to 11 p.m.) will be taken over with original arts and culture programming. Many of these programs will air in reruns overnight and on weekend afternoons, with repeats of city hearings on weekend mornings.

The station — a part of the Mayor’s Office of Cable and Communications — is using its $1.4 million budget to enlist freelance producers and local talent. Shows on the new station include Tasty Travels and Born in Baltimore. One promo for the station shows a Joan Rivers impersonator on the hunt for the best outfits and couples at the Preakness Stakes.

We canvassed the landscape and realized that there was a unique opportunity to bring national network concepts from HGTV, Food Channel, Travel Channel with a focus on Baltimore,” Lee said. “There are other public stations that have our type of content, but none deliver a brand or experience as we are seeking to do.”

The primetime shows won’t cut into council hearings, as Technical.ly Baltimore reported in April.

For city residents without cable access, Lee said she hopes to have the station’s programs archived online by year’s end. She said she also wants to expand the programming to speak to the city’s diverse population.

“We really want to offer something very robust, innovative, and helpful to viewers in the health and wellness space. We’ll tackle that next,” Lee said. “Wouldn’t be surprised to see us offer something for the Latino and Hispanic community as well.”

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Tyler Waldman

Tyler Waldman is lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. A Towson University graduate and former local editor for Patch.com, Tyler has also written and photographed for publications including the Baltimore Brew, Howard County Times and Towson Times. He lives in Charles Village.

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