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EGF man asks city to do something about TV presence

East Grand Forks resident Wayne Skalicky said there isn't enough television news specific to his community and he wants the City Council to do something about it.

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East Grand Forks City Hall. Herald file photo.

East Grand Forks resident Wayne Skalicky said there isn't enough television news specific to his community and he wants the City Council to do something about it.

"What we get is the Fargo-Moorhead news and Detroit Lakes," Skalicky said to the East Grand Forks City Council on Tuesday. "Their news, the weather and the sports. I couldn't care less."

That's why, Skalicky said, he requests his city do something to bring more local TV news to the greater Grand Forks area.

"I don't know why Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Devils Lake could not establish their own television station, where you have local reporters, you have the Grand Forks news, Grand Forks weather, University of North Dakota Sports," Skalicky said.

WDAZ-TV has been serving the greater Grand Forks region since 1967. In December, WDAZ's parent company, Forum Communications Co., announced it was merging WDAZ with WDAY, the company's TV station in Fargo. The company still has reporters and advertising staff located in its traditional office space in south Grand Forks.


Other network television stations also provide some coverage of Greater Grand Forks.

Forum Communications also owns the Grand Forks Herald and several other newspapers throughout Minnesota and North Dakota. The Herald remains at its downtown Grand Forks location.

Mayor Steve Gander suggested Skalicky take his request to local experts for economic development or the Chamber of Commerce.

"First of all, Forum Communications owns the licenses for our area, so they would have control over that," said Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barry Wilfahrt. "That would be more of a question for them, in terms of whether they have any plans to do anything like that. I think in today's current media environment it's very doubtful that Forum Communications would do that."

WDAY-WDAZ General Manager Joshua Rohrer did not respond to requests for comment from the Herald.

Council member Marc DeMers said the problem probably rests more with an FCC decision in 2017 that overturned an almost 80-year requirement that news companies must have a physical TV station in the areas where they're licensed to transmit TV signals.

"You need to talk to your U.S. representatives on both sides of the river, on both sides of the aisle, and remember that those changes that they make up in Washington, D.C., have effects at the local level," DeMers told Skalicky.

Meanwhile, DeMers said the city has been trying to boost itself as a "primary source" for information. East Grand Forks livestreams its City Council meetings on social media and shares information about local events and road closures online.


"(It's) not filtered through any reporting agency, but that's the best the government can do," DeMers said.

Other news

• East Grand Forks City Council members voted to pay roughly $63,300 more on a wastewater interconnect system the city approved back in 2016, to send East Grand Forks sewage to Grand Forks for treatment. The original contract price three years ago was about $5.4 million but has edged upward since. The change order council members approved Tuesday night would add to the total, which now is at $5.7 million. New additions include an exhaust fan and radios for the East Grand Forks and Grand Forks lift stations to improve interconnect-related communication between the two cities.

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