City of Midland

Cable Access Advisory Commission Mtg.



 WEDNESDAY, 11/9/05, 7:00P.M.






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.                Approval-Sept. 14, 2005 Minutes

III.               Public Comments

IV.              Old Business

1.      CAAC Goals

2.      Annual Report, 2004-05

3.      Federal Legislation




      V.       New Business

                  1.    Ku Klux Klan  

2.       Budget Response Plan  

     VI.        Announcements

1.      ACM Spring Conference,

May 4-6, 2006.

    VII.     Adjournment.  Next meeting,

           February 8, 2006















SEPTEMBER 14, 2005


PRESENT: Don Deibert; Todd DuBois, Jim Huber, Fred Johnson, Linda Malekadeli


ABSENT:  Bob Granstra, Roy Green


ALSO PRESENT:  Ron Beacom – MCTV, Melissa Barnard – Library,

Brandi Pfohl – Secretary


I.                     CALL To Order

By Beacom at 7pm


II.                   Election of Officers

1.      Chair – Huber moved to nominate Malekadeli, seconded by Deibert.  Motion passed unanimously. Malekadeli chair.  

2.      Vice-chair – Deibert moved to nominate Huber as Vice-chair seconded by Johnson.  Motion passed unanimously.  Huber Vice-chair.


III.                  APPROVAL - of May 11, 2005 minutes

Minutes approved as submitted.


IV.               PUBLIC Comments



V.                 OLD Business


Deibert questioned if the council made any changes in the attendance policy for commission members.  Beacom stated none were made.


VI.               NEW Business

1.      Annual Report – 2004-05:

Beacom reviewed the proposed annual report by the commission to be submitted to City Council.  Deibert moved to accept report, seconded by Huber.  Beacom will forward the report to City Council.


2.      Goals – 2005-06

Beacom reviewed suggested goals for the commission for the 2005-06.  Malekadeli stated she would like to continue with commission members taping PR spots on community access.  Deibert moved to approve goals with the addition of the PR spots, seconded by DuBois.  Motion passed unanimously.


3.      Proposed 2006 Meeting Date

Beacom submitted the proposed meeting dates for 2006: second Wednesday in February, May, September and November.  Huber moved to accept the meeting dates, seconded by Deibert.  Motion passed unanimously.




4.      Federal Legislation 

Beacom reviewed the Alliance for Community Media and the National League of Cities positions in opposition to proposed federal legislation that will reduce a city’s control over the public right of way and reduce the franchise fees which are used to support community access television (Agenda packet).  Beacom stated a letter was sent to Congressman Camp by the City opposing this legislation.  Malekadeli asked when it was going before Congress.  Beacom stated with the vacancies in the Supreme Court and Hurricane Katrina, it’s difficult to say when. Deibert asked if it was known who created the bill.  Beacom stated Verizon is said to have had a role. Verizon doesn’t want to have to negotiate with each individual municipality for franchise agreements to provide video. Some cable companies are against the bill.  Huber asked why there’s support for it.  A Verizon news release said “consumer driven markets work better than those managed by the government.”  Beacom said the Alliance isn’t opposed to telecommunications providers making a profit. The Alliance just wants a percentage of whatever spectrum set aside for the public to use for non-commercial uses and to have a funding mechanism to support it. Malekadeli stated that cable access users and the public should take action to oppose this bill.  Johnson stated local communities can look out for their own interest better than a larger body looking over everyone.  Malekadeli asked if something could be put on the message board stating what’s wrong with the bill.  Beacom stated that could be put on channel 15.



1. Beacom announced 2005 MCTV’s “Honors Night” is on Saturday, October 15. 

2. MCTV will host the ACM’s Central States Region Spring Conference,

May 4-6, 2006. Also, Louisville will host the Fall Conference, November 3-5. Contact Beacom if there is interest in attending.

3. Malekadeli urged anyone who utilizes community access to contact their congressman and senators about opposing the federal legislation.


ADJOURNMENT – Next meeting, November 9, 2005

Meeting adjourned at 7:49pm.




Respectfully submitted


Brandi Pfohl

Office Assistant









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”

      c.   Appear in public relations promotional videos for MCTV


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








































Ku Klux Klan-MCTV Report

CAAC, November 9, 2005


Program submitted & scheduled

Friday, September 29

Midland County resident, Randy Gray, submits 30-minute program, “This is the Klan.”


Saturday, October 22

Program is scheduled to be cablecast at 11:00p.m. on MCTV 3. It is treated as an “Outside Special” meaning programming not produced in Midland County but submitted by a Midland County resident.  Programs normally take at least two weeks to enter the program schedule.


Media coverage

Friday, October 14-Sunday, October 23

Media coverage begins. WNEM-TV 5 first reports the story after receiving the tip from a representative of the Klan. Saginaw News and Midland Daily News also report the story prior to the first cablecast. WEYI -TV 25 and WSMH-Fox 66 also broadcast reports following the first showing.



Saturday, October 22

Monday, October 31-Wednesday, November 2


Program is cablecast four times, the minimum number of times an “Outside Special” must be cablecast per the MCTV Rules and Procedures.


A second program has been submitted so the program will now be scheduled as an “Outside Series,” which means it will be shown once per week during the day.  To keep a series slot, one new program must be submitted per month.


Public reaction

As of Monday, November 7, MCTV has received three e-mails and three phone calls while the City Manager and City Attorney’s Offices have received three e-mails. Most are in opposition or want to know why we are allowing this to be cablecast.


City position

MCTV 3 is a public access channel. That means it’s a First Amendment/Free Speech forum. Also, City ordinance requires that programs be submitted by residents of Midland County. Therefore, the City must honor Mr. Gray’s constitutional right to free speech.












for Cable Access Advisory Commission meeting of November 9, 2005




SUBJECT:             Cable Communications Fund Budget Response Plan         



INITIATED BY:     Ron Beacom, MCTV



RESOLUTION SUMMARY:  This resolution supports the City of Midland’s Budget Response Plan for the Cable Communications Fund as submitted by City staff.





1.      Budget Response Plan


2.   Five-year Financial Plan


3.   Resolution






1.  Four (4) votes required to approve resolution





Ron Beacom


















November 7, 2005






TO:                  Cable Access Advisory Commission                   


SUBJECT:        Cable Communications Fund Budget Response Plan



During the budget process for the 2005-06 fiscal year, City staff presented to City Council and the Cable Access Advisory Commission information that showed that the Cable Communications Fund would be in a deficit at the end of the 2005-06 five-year plan, fiscal year 2009-2010.  The City Council directed the City staff to develop a Budget Response Plan during the 2005-06 fiscal year to address this projected deficit by reviewing revenues, expenses, and services.



The fund balance goal for the Cable Communications Fund is $75,000. However, the current adopted, five-year plan shows a deficit of $34,025 after the 2009-2010 fiscal year.



Over 99% of the revenue for the Cable Communications Fund is the franchise fee collected by the City from the cable television provider, Charter Communications. That franchise fee is 5% of the gross revenues Charter generates in Midland. The fee is paid to the City for Charter’s use of the public right of way. The projected fee is $468,939 this year.


Less than one percent of the Cable Communications Fund is derived from fees for making videotape copies and training, interest on the fund balance, and the occasional sale of used equipment. This amounts to just over $4,000 this year.


For several years, Charter and its predecessor, Bresnan Communications, projected a five percent increase in the franchise fee and, for several years, the fee often exceeded their projection. However, given increasing competition from satellite providers, the loss of franchise fees collected on cable modem services, and other factors, the franchise fee no longer exceeds projections and recently has fallen short.


Following is the recent history of the fees collected and the percentage change from year to year:

Year                Revenue         % Change


1998-99         $299,975      

1999-00         $358,183       +19.4%         

2000-01         $393,636       +  9.9%

2001-02         $445,413       +13.2%

2002-03         $444,310            -.2%

2003-04         $431,738          -2.8%

2004-05         $446,609         +3.4%


It should be noted that this chart reflects an overpayment made by Charter in 2002-03 and then an adjustment on that overpayment in 2003-04.




The following areas have been reviewed to potentially enhance revenues:

a)     User fees

b)     Franchise Fee Audit of Charter Communications



With the exception of access users being charged a one-time training fee of $10 and a tape duplication fee for those who want a copy of a program, no user fees are currently charged for the use of the MCTV equipment and facilities.  A user fee has never been proposed because a majority of the access users are volunteers who donate their time on behalf of many non-profit organizations in Midland County.  Much of their volunteer time not only benefits public access programming but also is used to produce programming for the Midland Public Schools channel, MPS-TV 17. Some of their volunteer time is also used to assist City staff in the production of programs for the government access channel, MGTV 5, on special productions such as the Beautification Awards, Community Question, and the Community Meeting on Dioxin.


The Cable Communications Fund in fiscal year 2004-05 collected $891 for tape duplications. At most, in the past six years, the City has collected $1,457 in a single year.


Based on City ordinance, the duplication fee is $10 per half hour of content. However, the MCTV Rules and Procedures allow for one free copy to be given to the producer except for the cost of the media ($5 for a VHS tape or DVD).


History shows that a large majority of the copies made by staff are free copies for producers and the organizations they represent.  Several inquiries are made by the public but requests are rarely processed for programs longer than two hours in length because, at a minimum, the charge is $40.


The mission of MCTV staff is to either produce programs for government access or assist in the production of programs for both public access and educational access.  Tape duplication is an additional service that takes staff time away from producing programs.


The elimination of free copies and the restructuring of fees charged for copies of lengthier programs could increase revenue. The initial goal would be to collect approximately $2,000 in the first fiscal year.



 b)  AUDIT

The 2005-06 budget includes an appropriation of $10,000 for a franchise fee audit of Charter Communications to determine whether the appropriate amount of franchise fees was paid in a given year. Since the budget was adopted, City staff has found an audit agency specializing in cable franchise fee audits that will conduct the audit on a contingency fee basis.  Any recovered franchise fees would be shared 50%/50% between the City and the audit agency with no expense to the fund.





1)     Revise tape duplication policy and fees

2)     Continue with plans to audit Charter Communications’ franchise fee




Expenditures in the 2005-06 Cable Communications Fund budget are separated into the following three categories:


Category                                            Amount                       % of Budget


Personal Services                            $333,000                   58% of budget

Supplies & Other Charges               $198,000                   35% of budget

Capital Outlay                                      $41,900                      7% of budget





Reductions in Capital Outlay were made in the Cable Communications Fund five-year plan during the 2005-06 budget adoption process.  Since then, the Personal Services and Supplies & Other Charges categories have been reviewed to potentially decrease expenditures.




Personal Services


There are four full-time positions and five part-time positions on the MCTV staff.  The full-time positions include the following:

1)     Director

2)     Production Director

3)     Production Assistant

4)     Office Assistant


The part-time positions are a pool of five production assistants responsible for the coverage of the meetings of seven of the City’s advisory boards and commissions and assist in the coverage of City Council and Planning Commission meetings.  Their total hours as a group are budgeted at 1,050 hours for the year.


The staff is supplemented by a 40-hour per week production intern with temporary employment (one year) and a work/study student from Delta College who assists in the office on a semester-by-semester basis.


MCTV staff provides a variety of services for the three forms of access television in Midland: public, government, and education, which include:


  • Training public access users in the use of video equipment and assisting access users in the production of their programs.


  • Producing coverage of City Council, Planning Commission and seven other advisory boards and commissions.


  • Producing the monthly newsmagazine, “City in 15,” and special productions including the annual show about the proposed City budget.


  • Hosting the Midland Public Schools video communications course on Thursday nights during the school year and technically supports the production of programs for MPS-TV 17 led by either MPS staff or access users.


  • Scheduling staff support for all of these productions at the following times:

Monday-Friday          9:00am-10:00pm

Saturday                  10:00am- 5:00pm

Some weekday mornings, weeknights and Saturdays staff aren’t available because of the production schedule, vacations, and holidays. Saturdays are primarily used for access user training.


Staff is also available to work Saturday evenings and Sundays for programs videotaped using the production trailer. Examples include the Midland Symphony Orchestra, Midland Concert Band and the Dow Corning Tennis Championships.


Supplies & Other Charges


Supplies, rent, professional services, administrative services, computer services, promotions, equipment maintenance, reserve for contingencies, and a payment to the Midland Public Schools to support the educational access channel are included in Supplies & Other Charges.


The Midland Public Schools Channel (MPS-TV 17) was created in fiscal year 2002-03 as a result of survey results showing citizens wanted a channel devoted to schools.  The City entered into an agreement with the Midland Public Schools in which the City Council agreed to pay the Midland Public Schools $40,000 for start-up equipment, and then $20,000 per year for next four years for continued financial support.  Fiscal year 2006-07 marks the end of the agreement.




1)     Since personal services make up over 58% of the budget, some reduction in staff will be necessary to eliminate the deficit.  Any reduction in personnel will result in a corresponding reduction in services.  The reduction in public access services will be achieved through two staff changes. Currently, the MCTV production assistant and production intern work a combined 80 hours per week. That will be reduced to 48 hours per week by:


a)     Reducing the full-time production assistant position to a 24-hours per week, part-time position.

b)     Converting the temporary production internship to a 24-hours per week, part-time position.


One position will work primarily with public access, while the second will work primarily on government access productions. Some of the current duties of the full-time production assistant and the intern will be reassigned. Savings in the first year would equal $30,000.


The number of hours the facility will be open will vary based upon production demand.  For purposes of these budget projections the average number of hours for operation may be reduced from 66 hours per week to 50 hours per week.


2)     Non-renewal of the $20,000 payment to the Midland Public Schools for support of MPS-TV 17.



In order to address the projected deficit in the Cable Communications Fund, the following recommendations are proposed:


1)     Implement franchise fee audit of Charter Communications

2)     Revise tape duplication policy and fees

3)     Reduce staff and facility hours

4)     Non-renewal of payment to the Midland Public Schools


If adopted, the proposed changes would be effective July 1, 2006.


The projected balance after 2009-10 would be $59,477, just below the $75,000 fund balance goal. The Cable Communications Fund will be continually monitored to determine further action.


Attached is the five-year plan as adopted in the 2005-06 budget and the five-year plan with the recommended changes.






WHEREAS, the City Council directed the City staff to prepare a budget response plan to address the Cable Communications Fund deficit identified in the 2005-06 five-year financial plan; and


WHEREAS, the City staff has prepared for review by the Cable Access Advisory Commission the Cable Communications Fund Budget Response Plan that includes several recommendations that will eliminate the deficit; and


WHEREAS, the Cable Communications Advisory Commission has reviewed the Cable Communications Fund Budget Response Plan as submitted by City staff; now therefore


RESOLVED, that the Commission supports the Cable Communications Fund Budget Response Plan as submitted by City staff.










I, Brandi Pfohl, Recording Secretary, City of Midland’s Cable Access Advisory Commission, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of a

Resolution adopted by a        yea vote of all the Commission members present at a regular Meeting of the Commission held Wednesday, November 9, 2005.





                                                                                       Brandi Pfohl, Secretary