Agenda

City of Midland

Cable Access Advisory Commission Mtg.

 

 

 WEDNESDAY, 9/14/05, 7:00P.M.

 CITY HALL-COUNCIL CHAMBERS

 

 

 

 

Contact MCTV staff at 837-3474 if you can’t attend the meeting.

Please arrive by 6:50p.m. Meeting will be cablecast “LIVE” on MGTV.

Agenda topics

Action items in Bold                                                  

 

I.                    Call to Order/Roll Call

II.                Election of Officers

1.      Chair

2.      Vice-chair

III.             Approval-May 11, 2005 Minutes

IV.              Public Comments

V.       Old Business

 

 

 

      VI.       New Business

                  1.    Annual Report-2004-05  

2.      Goals - 2005-06

3.      Proposed 2006 Meeting Dates  

4.      Federal Legislation

    VII       Announcements

1.      Honors Night-October 15

2.      ACM Spring Conference,

May 4-6, 2006.

    VIII.     Adjournment.  Next meeting,

           November 9, 2005

 

 

 

 

                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

CABLE ACCESS ADVISORY COMMISSION

MAY 11, 2005

 

PRESENT:  Don Deibert; Todd DuBois, Bob Granstra, Roy Green, Jim Huber, Fred Johnson,

Linda Malekadeli

 

ABSENT:  None

 

ALSO PRESENT:  Ron Beacom – MCTV; Melissa Barnard – Library; Brandi Pfohl – Secretary

 

I.                    CALL To Order

By Malekadeli at 7pm

 

II.                 APPROVAL - of February 9, 2005 minutes

Minutes approved as submitted

 

III.               PUBLIC Comments

None

 

IV.              OLD Business

1.      Goals 2004-05

Beacom reviewed goals. 

 

2.      CAAC Appointments

Beacom stated Roy Green and Bob Granstra were both reappointed by City Council.

 

3.      Subscriber – FOCUS Groups

Beacom stated MCTV will not be able to do FOCUS groups this fall because of budget issues. More on the budget later.

 

V.                 NEW Business

1.      Board & Commission Training.

Beacom stated the City conducted a training session for boards and commissions members.  Deibert and Green attended.  Deibert stated it was informative. Dealt with the do's and don'ts of being a commission member and being on TV.  Green stated it was an opportunity to meet other boards and commission members and discuss what they are doing and how they handle different situations.

 

2.      Benchmark

Beacom reviewed the benchmark survey submitted to the commission. (agenda packet).

 

3.      MCTV Budget

Beacom reviewed budget presentation that was given to City Council on May 2. Five-year plan shows a deficit. Green asked about $100,000 item in capital later in the five-year plan. Beacom stated that’s for replacement of existing field cameras and tape machines for editing and replay. Beacom stated the first SVHS cameras purchased around 1990 had a long life. Replacement cameras purchased in late 1990s had a similar cost but didn’t last as long.

The digital DVCAMs purchased in 2002-03 are a better, more expensive camera and will hopefully have a long life. Malekadeli asked about the fluctuation in “Other Charges.”  Beacom stated money budgeted for the franchise fee lawsuit and an audit of Charter is only for the coming year. After 2006-07, the budget doesn’t show the $20,000 given annually to the Midland Public Schools to support the school channel. That year marks the end of five-year agreement with MPS. Green asked if the City had received numbers from Charter regarding the number of subscribers and whether those numbers are up or down. Beacom said in June last year Charter said there were 13,165 subscribers in the City. Don’t know if that’s up or down from previous years. Might find that out in an audit. Malekadeli asked about the increase in personal services.  Beacom stated that’s due to increases in health insurance, pre-funded retirees’ health, and pension costs.

 

      4.   Attendance Policy

Beacom stated City Council is asking input from all boards and commission members on the attendance policy. Beacom reviewed policy.  Green stated you make a commitment to serve and know that the meetings are scheduled ahead of time so you should be able to attend. However, City Council should take into consideration unforeseen circumstances.  Deibert, Johnson and Huber in agreement, but personal calendars can change. Malekadeli asked about what other commissions thought about the policy.  Barnard stated comments have been the same as CAAC’s.

 

5.      ACM Memberships 

Beacom stated money is budgeted for memberships for the commission. 

 

VI.              ANNOUNCEMENTS

Beacom stated the Open House on April 16th had great attendance. MCTV again worked with GMS Arts Education on the “hands on” mural.

Caleb Hansen’s internship will be completed at the end of June. New intern, Dan Goodell, will begin July 5. 

Beacom reviewed the spring ACM conference he attended in Indianapolis.

Summer video camp for June is filled. A second session has been added for August.

This year’s Honors Night is Saturday, October 15. 

           

VII.            ADJOURNMENT – Next meeting, September 14, 2005

Meeting adjourned at 8:04pm.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Brandi Pfohl

Recording Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Report - DRAFT

 

City of Midland

Cable Access Advisory Commission

Proposed Annual Report 2004/2005

 

HIGHLIGHTS

The Cable Access Advisory Commission:

·       Developed a proposed survey of cable subscribers.

·       Reviewed a benchmark survey of other cable access television stations in Michigan.

·       Reviewed a presentation on the five-year budget plan for the Cable Communications Fund.

 

GOALS FOR 2004-2005

The Commission developed and approved the following goals for the fiscal year:

 

1.   Benchmark study of comparable access centers in Michigan

a.       Volume of users

b.      Facility/equipment use

c.       Programs submitted

d.      Budget

 

2.   Develop plan/recommendation for community/subscriber/user survey

a.       Determine viewership of all access channels

b.      Determine viewership of types of programs

c.       Determine awareness of access facilities and equipment

 

3.   Promote use of public access

a.       Continue Commissioner PR spots on MCTV

b.   Develop Speaker’s Bureau for service club presentations

 

4.  Improve commission communication with the community/users

a.   MCTV website

b.   Access User survey

 

 

 

OUTCOMES

1.      Benchmark study of comparable access centers in Michigan

The Commission reviewed a benchmark study prepared by MCTV staff.  The study of eleven other access centers in Michigan provided information about each community’s cable provider, number of subscribers reached, form(s) of cable access, number, type, and location of channels, budget, number of access users and staff, number of programs submitted for cablecasting, and the center’s process to determine time slots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Develop plan/recommendation for community/subscriber/user survey

MCTV staff with input from the Commission and the Midland Public Schools developed a proposed survey of cable subscribers. The proposed survey focused on viewership of public, education, and government access in Midland and the survey focused on possible interest in participating in cable access.  However, the cost to have the survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research at Central Michigan University was considerably higher than what was estimated. There were insufficient funds in the City’s Cable Communications Fund to conduct the survey.

     

3.  Promote Use of Public Access 

The chair of the Commission, Linda Malekadeli, presented the Rosemarie Byers Community Voice Award to GMS Arts Education at MCTV’s “Honors Night” in October. This award is presented annually to an organization for its strong use of public access in Midland.

   

                         4.  Improve commission communication with the community/users

Commission members added an opportunity for the public to communicate with the commission by having their e-mails placed on MCTV’s location on the City of Midland website.

 

The Commission also reviewed a survey of cable access users conducted by MCTV.

Questions focused on what could be done to improve MCTV’s services for access users.

 

 

COMMISSION MEMBERS

Linda Malekadeli served as chair, Roy Green was vice-chair. Don Deibert, Jim Huber, and Dr. Fred Johnson joined the commission in 2004. Bob Granstra and Roy Green were both reappointed to City Council for new three-year terms ending in 2007.

 

Commissions Deibert and Green attended a City of Midland workshop for advisory board and commission members in March 2005.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

 

 

Cable Access Advisory Commission Members:

Don Deibert

Todd DuBois

Bob Granstra

Roy Green

Jim Huber

Dr. Fred Johnson

Linda Malekadeli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROPOSED CAAC Goals for 2005-06

 

1.   Review City staff’s five-year budget response plan for the Cable Communications Fund

      and make recommendation to City Council.

     

2.   Promote awareness of public access

      a.   Develop Speaker’s Bureau for service club presentations

      b.   Participate in MCTV’s “Honors Night”

 

3.  Host Alliance for Community Media Spring Conference in April 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACM Position on HR3146, S1349 and S1504

The members of the Alliance for Community Media request that you announce your support for media localism that builds diverse communities across our nation.

We ask that you strongly oppose House 3146, Senate 1349 as well as the bill proposed by Senator Ensign last week -- Senate 1504.

Each of these bills is a National Video Disenfranchisement Act -- undoing years of progress in connecting the people of our communities to important local institutions and services. These bills are anti-competitive taking resources away from our local communities and giving them to giant and remote corporations without fair compensation. These bills are technically flawed and unworkable in the real world. We request that the Congress take the time to develop a reasoned framework that will serve the public interest and function effectively for years to come.

The cable bills before Congress are wrong for three reasons:


The Bills Take Resources From Our Communities:

  • Communications Facilities - While the bills continue some aspects of franchise fees to municipalities, they eliminate essential communications facilities our local governments have negotiated as part of franchise agreements. Gone will be the distance learning this affords our schools. Gone will be the institutional networks used for public safety and homeland security. Gone will be the resources which have provided for cheaper, more efficient delivery of health and social services.
  • Franchise Fee Off-Sets - Under the Ensign bill franchise fees—fees paid in recognition of the value of public rights-of-way -- are eliminated. Instead, cities and towns are reduced to recovering the cost of maintaining rights-of-way for use by these corporations. Even collection of real costs is limited to 5% of gross revenue or less. This means that none of what used to be called the franchise fee will be available to support Public Access, Educational Access or Government Access programming. Funding will be eliminated for public networks including public safety communications.


These Bills Are Technically Deficient:

  • Jurisdiction -- PEG - The local cable franchise is the negotiation and enforcement tool for communities. Under the proposed legislation, there is no entity to determine PEG channel capacity, placement, interconnection or support. The City has no relationship to the provider. Furthermore, while the bills anticipate creation of PEG capacity in towns where there is none, they do not identify a negotiating partner to establish the request—and if they did, the partner would have no authority from which to negotiate the community interest.
  • Jurisdiction -- Right-Of-Way - Local communities are reduced to having little legal enforcement authority over a national corporation operating in their public roads. Local differences of opinion in the placement of poles, equipment of the digging up of roads may have to be settled at the state level, by the FCC or in the courts instead of at face-to-face meetings.
  • Jurisdiction -- Ensign - This bill in particular designates that the cable provider can dig up the public roads without notifying the city, much less obtaining permission, in the case of an undefined “emergency” -- an unacceptable derogation of the city’s public safety obligations.
  • One Size Does Not Fit All - Our communities are beautifully diverse. One national regimen cannot possibly cover the technical, communications, cultural and construction needs of all cities, large and small.

The Borough of Manhattan, New York alone has more than 550,000 cable subscribers, more than 5,000 producers of Public Access, one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the world, very broad, permissive community standards, extremely dense geography, and the most intense media coverage in the country.

The Town of Rhinebeck has under 10,000 total population -- a population 358 times geographically less dense than Manhattan, has more sensitive community standards, has less commercial coverage of local issues, less demand on public channel capacity, greater likelihood of satellite penetration and different opportunities for economic development.

A one-size-fits-all approach to franchise negotiations does not adequately allow either of these two New York Cities to determine what use of its publicly owned rights-of-way best serves the local public need.

Further, a national franchise authority moves us rapidly toward the creation of a single, homogenized national culture—one with little difference between Hollywood CA and Hollywood, FL.

  • Channel Capacity - Nowhere is the term “channel” defined. This deficiency will lead to confusion and litigation between all parties. This lack of clarity shows the haste in which these bills were patched together.

Currently, a channel occupies 6MHz bandwidth. Five channels would occupy 30MHz bandwidth. As systems digitize, more “channels” occupy less bandwidth. A digital signal typically occupies 1/10th as much space now and may occupy 1/100th as much in the near future. The commitment to public interest bandwidth in payment for rights-of-way would, therefore, shrink as the system capacity grows!

More importantly, the number of functions associated with a channel are increasing as the size of the signal decreases. A “channel” such as Disney, for instance, may include programming as we currently understand it, but may also include interactive services, sales, side-bar information sources, audience measurement -- it is impossible in 2005 to imagine what may constitute a channel in 2020.


These Bills Are Anti-Competitive:

  • All three bills absolutely favor the existing cable and telecommunications providers over all potential competitors at a time when the Supreme Court decision in “Brand X” signals that neither has any “open platform” obligations for their information services. Every community will be controlled by one or two dominant players who have legal authority to act as gatekeepers for most voice, data and video to the home. This is non-competitive and anti-democratic.
  • The Ensign bill awards “veto” control to any corporation over municipal development of communications facilities -- without any corporate commitment to create that structure! This absolutely eliminates the need to compete. The community has no legal ability to ask for content or services and loses the ability to provide them on its own -- a fundamental means of encouraging the commercial provider to do so.

 


How The Bills Can Be Fixed:
The simplest solution for telecom entry into cable is to mirror existing cable franchises in each locality. It eliminates the burden of negotiating new agreements from scratch. This is fair to telecom, fair to existing cable providers, fair to PEG operations and, most importantly, fair to your constituents who own and maintain the land upon which these enormous profits are to be made. (For a successful example of this, see the agreements between Time Warner, RCN and the Borough of Manhattan, NY.)

  • Solution - Financial support for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access must be maintained—including both operating and capital support as outlined in the existing federal laws.
  • Solution - Municipal use of channels should maintain system proportionality with 2004 levels or 30 MHz, whichever is greater.
  • Solution - Non-monetary payments of the franchise agreements, including public networks and other community media infrastructure must be protected.
  • Solution - Franchise fees, if limited to 5%, must stand alone. They should not be offset by other values, nor should they be tied artificially to unrelated costs of the municipality. These fees are in recognition that great profits are being made on land owned by the people of the town -- in addition to any costs of maintenance.


Competition is good, but it must be smart. These bills lack adequate rudder. A balance must be struck between community need and corporate desire. This balance cannot be reached if every means for the community to speak as a group is eliminated.

The Alliance for Community Media and the hundreds of thousands of organizations we support and represent throughout this great country implore Congress to maintain the wise and proven policy of Local Franchising Authorities for cable broadband and other broadband service. It is a system which has for more than thirty years encouraged diversity in programming and structure based on the needs of our local communities. It is a system that has encouraged vibrant competition and innovation, while allowing local government to serve constituents more efficiently.

As you consider proposed legislation, please protect the existing policy of community reinvestment through Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access, including those funds and bandwidth being used for public purposes, by:

  • Allowing the local community which owns the public right-of-way to franchise and determine the best use of the community’s property. This principle must be protected by Federal law.
  • Dedicating 10% of public airwaves and capacity on communication facilities that occupy public rights-of-way for PEG use for local programs, community-based education, free speech, political processes and diverse points of view.
  • Mandating funding of 5% of gross revenues from all infrastructure or service providers and spectrum licensees to support PEG equipment, facilities, training and services.
  • Making PEG access universally available to any consumer of advanced telecommunications services capable of full-motion video.

Please feel free to call on the Alliance office, or our members at any time for information or for support in changing these bills.

 

 

City Officials Concerned That Ensign Bill Would Gut Communications Act

07/29/05

Washington, DC, July 29—City officials announced their strong opposition today to a bill just introduced by Senator John Ensign (R-Nev) to rewrite the Communications Act, which appears to gut the role that local and state government plays in protecting the rights of citizens. 

“This bill takes away most controls and protections that local governments need to monitor and ensure that the communications industry is responsible and responsive to our citizens,” said Arvada, Colo, Mayor Ken Fellman, and lead spokesman for the National League of Cities (NLC) on telecommunications issues.  “This bill eliminates local cable franchising altogether.  It cripples our ability as local governments to manage our public rights-of-way and it blocks our efforts to ensure that communications services are available to anyone, not just the chosen few.”
 
Among the many concerns about the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act (S.1504) noted by NLC officials are:
• Franchise Issues
      o The bill would immediately eliminate all existing local franchise agreements.  The new provisions would be applicable to    all video service providers, both existing cable companies and new entrants. 
      o Although the bill retains the current five percent gross revenue cap on franchise fees to address local government concerns, it limits the revenues from these fees in two ways:  1) by limiting these fees to the cost of managing the rights-of-way; and 2) providing four-and-a-half pages of exceptions to what can be included in the gross revenue costs, gutting existing contractual agreements.
      o The bill allows video providers to ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reduce their franchise fees and makes the FCC the arbitrator of disputes over franchise fees, forcing local governments nationwide to incur the costs to come to Washington to resolve disputes.
 Permitting and Rates
      o The Ensign bill prohibits municipalities from charging fees for issuing construction permits needed to install or upgrade facilities.
      o The bill eliminates all rate regulation of any kind of any telephone or video service.  Companies will now be able to undercut prices of a competitive provider in one part of a city, while charging higher prices for the same services in communities that might not be as attractive to competitive providers.
• Public Channels and Consumer Protection
      o Under the bill, video providers would be required to offer only four public, educational and government (PEG) public access channels. 
      o All consumer protection rules would be adopted at the federal level and state commissions would be responsible to enforce these provisions. 
      o The sole regulatory role of local governments for video communications would be to select which four channels would be used as PEG channels.
      o It weakens provisions for customer service standards on data and telephone services.
 Ability of local governments to offer communications services to their communities, i.e., broadband services offered by municipalities
      o Cities would be required to develop a detailed description of any project, including cost, services to be provided, coverage area, terms and architecture.  The city must then employ a neutral third-party to conduct an open bidding process.  In the event a public entity is chosen, any private entity receives the right to use government facilities such as in-ground conduits or trenches. 
      o Existing government projects to provide these types of services would be grandfathered, but not if they are “substantially expanded.”

NLC President Anthony A. Williams and mayor of Washington, DC, acknowledged the need to modernize regulation of the telecom industry to reflect the knowledge-based economy and environment of the 21st century.  “But we must have balance when we look at telecommunications issues,” Williams said today.  “We support new technologies and new ways to deliver information, voice and video services, and we welcome head-to-head video competition in our cities and towns throughout the country, but this bill won’t help us achieve that goal.”

Mayor Fellman, who chairs NLC's Information Technology and Communications Committee, said, “We have grave concerns about the language in Senator Ensign’s bill.  We will spend the recess educating members about the crippling impact this would have on our ability as local governments to manage our public rights of way, and to serve our citizens.  Not only is the bill bad public policy, but it revokes existing contracts, creates special exemptions for telecommunications companies, and, in a number of respects, appears to be unconstitutional.”

NLC will be working with state leagues and local elected officials to educate Congress about the strong opposition of local governments to this bill. The chairs of both the Senate and House Commerce Committees, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) are expected to introduce their own rewrite bills later this year. 

For more information, contact Sherry Conway Appel, 202-626-3003.

 

National League of Cities
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 550 · Washington, DC 20004
Phone:(202) 626-3000 · Fax:(202) 626-3043
info@nlc.org · www.nlc.org
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PROPOSED 2006 Meeting Dates:

2nd Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers

 

February 8

 

May 10

 

September 13

 

November 8