LEE -- Community Television for the Southern Berkshires is close to two months away from moving into a new $1 million state-of-the-art studio and training facility.

The CTSB broadcast complex under construction on a two-acre parcel in the Quarry Hill Business Park off Route 102, just east of its current studios along the state highway, is 95 percent complete and should be operation by early June, according to CTSB station manager Leo Mahoney.

"We expect to switch over and be operational on June 3," Mahoney said.

First signed on in 1989, CTSB broadcasts government, educational and independently produced programs over three channels on the Time Warner Cable system serving Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington and Sheffield.

In preparation for the move, CTSB will close its productions studios May 1, putting on hiatus about 20 shows pre-recorded at the facility. However, CTSB will continue to broadcast and record the board of selectmen, school committee and upcoming annual town meetings in the five towns.

"There should be no interruption in live meetings and playbacks," Mahoney said. "This a very big time of year with town meetings."

The new community television studios will be outfitted with $216,000 worth of high-definition cameras and other equipment that will improve the quality of its in-house productions, CTSB officials have said.

The new 4,000-square-foot studio complex will replace CTSB’s current 3,000-square-foot building -- a converted garage -- that it rents across from the former Lee Bowling Lanes. CTSB is funding the project with an $800,000 loan from Lee Bank and $216,000 in capital money from Time Warner. The cable company investment is part of the license agreement the five towns recently renewed with Time Warner to continue servicing the South County communities.

CTSB officials anticipate two decades of savings toward the project and a 5 percent take of Time Warner’s television revenue will help pay off the loan in 10 years rather than 20.

CTSB employees three full-time staff members, 12 part- timers and has an annual operating budget of $300,000.

Mahoney hopes the new studio will attract more volunteers -- CTSB has 30 -- eliminating the $11,000 yearly cost to pay part-time help.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233