COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Cable television has brought viewers music channels, the Weather Channel and the Learning Channel. Now, there is the South Carolina Channel.
Beginning Wednesday night, the South Carolina Channel will host Gen. Charles Bolden, former NASA commander and Columbia resident from a set at the State Fairgrounds.
Programming will continue with live coverage from the State Fair, which starts its 10-day run Thursday.
The new channel, available only on digital cable systems, will be the first of its kind to offer a variety of local programs in a 24-hour format, said Tom Fowler, senior vice president for broadcasting at S.C. ETV.
"We're the only state that is doing something as extensive as the South Carolina Channel," Fowler said.
The South Carolina Channel will run 24 hours and feature local student symphony performances, high school football games and nature shows. When the General Assembly is in session, the channel will have House and Senate floor coverage, committee meetings and public hearings.
Minnesota and Florida have state channels but The Minnesota Channel airs just once a week. The Florida Channel is on every day and focuses primarily on legislative and Supreme Court coverage.
The South Carolina Channel will be available only to digital cable subscribers in South Carolina. Initially, the channel will be on Time Warner channel 802, Comcast channel 192 and Comporium channel 202. Other cable systems will be added in 2004.
ETV will fill in the 24-hour cable schedule with taped shows from its broadcast channels.
Fowler hopes the South Carolina Channel will serve all levels of education in the state and reflect what South Carolina viewers said they wanted - programming for and about the state.
Guest lecturers at South Carolina's universities will be taped and aired on the channel.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's lecture will be the first speech aired. "I am sure if they sample it, they will find it very enlightening," said John Skvoretz, interim dean of the University of South Carolina's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
USC professor Janette Turner Hospital will tape interviews with authors she has invited to her community literature class for broadcast in the spring.
"I think this is a wonderful collaboration between the university and cable TV," Hospital said. "We have a special set for the show which is quite beautiful."