Topeka Inmates at Shawnee County jail and the juvenile detention center could be without television starting Feb. 17 because the TVs at those facilities receive only analog signals that won’t be around after that date.
The County Commission is considering a request to pay for cable service that would resolve the problem, but the estimated cost of installing the necessary equipment and paying initial charges for cable television service is estimated at more than $5,000.
Corrections director Dick Kline has asked the commission to develop specifications and solicit bids for limited cable service to corrections department buildings.
In a memo last week, Kline said the department provides only antenna-driven access to local TV stations.
“This system has no ability to capture the signal of local channels when the transition to digital programming takes place,” he wrote.
Analog broadcasts are ending on Feb. 17 to free up airwaves for public safety communications and use by wireless broadband and cell phone TV.
Most customers whose television sets use an antenna have to get a converter box or have no signal after the change is made.
TVs that are sold today generally don’t need a converter box.
“The option of purchasing digital televisions for each location or providing a converter box for each location will not function properly because the signal is unable to travel through the concrete and steel that makes up the construction of a correctional facility,” Kline wrote.
Kline said money to cover costs for installation and monthly service charges are available in a corrections department account.
“I would anticipate entering into a multiyear agreement with the successful vendor, to allow full use of the installed equipment and obtain a reduced monthly rate for the services,” he wrote.
It was not immediately clear how many TV sets there are at the jail and juvenile detention center.
Commissioners plan to consider Kline’s request on Monday.