Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL

FROM: ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER

DATE: NOVEMBER 5, 2002

SUBJECT: EDUCATIONAL ACCESS CHANNEL

RECOMMENDATION

1. Consider input from the local educational institutions regarding the need and potential benefits of a dedicated educational access channel; and,

2. Decide whether to adopt Resolution No. 2002 - ; directing Cox Communications to establish an educational access channel pursuant Exhibit E, Section I(C)(1) of the October 17, 2000 Cable Television Franchise Agreement on the local cable television network.

BACKGROUND

On September 17, 2002, the City Council established a Cable Television Ad Hoc

Subcommittee, consisting of Mayor McTaggart and Councilman Gardiner, to explore the possibility of maximizing the City’s use local cable access under the current Franchise Agreement with Cox Communications. Currently, one of the untapped provisions of the Franchise Agreement would allow for the creation of a dedicated educational access channel. Specifically, Section (C)(1) of Exhibit E, Support of Local Cable Usage, of the October 17, 2000 Cable Television Franchise Agreement states:

Following a determination by the Grantor’s City Council that a dedicated educational access channel will provide a meaningful benefit to the community, taking into consideration alternative uses for the channel, and that the channel will be for such use, Grantee will provide to Grantor, at no cost to Grantor, one channel for noncommercial local educational programming.

The other provisions of the Franchise Agreement related to the operation of the educational channel are attached to this report for the Council’s reference.

As reported by Councilman Gardiner at the October 15th City Council meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee met with Cox General Manager Steve Fowler on October 7, 2002 to discuss, among other issues, the City’s interest in creating a dedicated educational access channel. Based the results of that discussion, the Ad Hoc Subcommittee directed staff to:

1. Send out letters to local educational institutions soliciting their input regarding the creation of a local educational access channel and inviting them to attend this evening’s meeting to discuss the matter.

2. Place an item on this evening’s agenda to consider the input received and decide whether to adopt a resolution directing Cox Communications to establish a dedicated educational access channel.

DISCUSSION

On October 16, 2002, staff sent letters (see attached example) to the following fifteen local educational institutions:

Palos Verdes Unified School District
California State University Dominguez Hills
El Camino Community College
Los Angeles Harbor College
Marymount College Palos Verdes
Southern California Regional Occupational Center (SCROC)
Chadwick School
International Bilingual School Los Angeles
Peninsula Heritage School
Peninsula Montessori School
Rolling Hills Country Day School
Rolling Hills Preparatory School
Palos Verdes Art Center
Norris Theater of the Performing Arts
Palos Verdes on the Net

As of the preparation of this report, staff had received feedback from three institutions:

Palos Verdes Unified School District

Dr. Ira Toibin reported to staff that the School Board discussed the proposed educational channel at its October 24, 2002 meeting. The Board appointed a subcommittee consisting of Board Members Jim Goodhart and Barbara Lucky to meet with the City’s Subcommittee to gather more information about the purpose and function of the channel, as well as the level of financial commitment required for the School District agrees to participate. The Board also requested that Dr. Elizabeth Nash from SCROC be invited to participate in the meeting, in light of her organization’s vocational resources and experience in running a similar program in El Segundo.

Rolling Hills Country Day School

Staff received a telephone call from Administrative Assistant Joan Barrens about the proposed educational access channel. Ms. Barrens indicated interest in the concept, but requested more specific information about the level of financial commitment required if Rolling Hills Country Day decided to participate. She also asked if the City would provide the audio/video equipment needed for the students to produce programming for the channel.

Los Angeles Harbor College

Harbor College will be sending two, or possibly three, representatives to this evening’s meeting to provide oral testimony to City Council. Their representatives will include Mr. Luis Rosas, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Mr. Bobby McNeel, Vice President of Workforce Development and possibly a representative from the Theater Arts Department.

Staff will provide Council with an oral update at this evening’s meeting if additional input is received after the completion of the meeting agenda packet.

FISCAL IMPACT

If the City Council directs Cox Communications to provide the City with a dedicated educational access channel, the Cable Franchise Agreement requires the cable operator to do so at no cost to the City. However, although Cox is required to provide space in its channel line-up, the Franchise Agreement does not obligate the cable operator to provide any of the equipment, staffing or other financial support that will be required to develop, produce and edit the programming that will be shown on the channel. The City will be responsible for procuring programming and providing any other support for the channel, whether through its own resources, cost sharing with local educational institutions, contracting with another entity to manage and operate the channel for the City, or through some other means yet to be determined. Given this uncertainty, the exact cost to the City cannot be determined at this time. The most likely source of financial support from the City would be the General fund.

ALTERNATIVES

1. Continue the matter to a date certain to allow the local educational institutions additional time to consider the proposal and provide their input to the City.

2. Decide to not move forward at this time with the creation of an education access channel on cable television.

Respectfully submitted:
Carolynn Petru
Assistant City Manager

Attachments

Resolution No. 2002- ;

Sample letter sent to local educational institutions

Exhibit E, Section (C) of the October 17, 2000 Cable Television Franchise Agreement

RESOLUTION NO. 2002 -

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DIRECTING COX COMMUNICATIONS TO PROVIDE A DEDICATED EDUCATIONAL ACCESS CHANNEL ON THE LOCAL CABLE TELEVISION NETWORK

WHEREAS, on October 17, 2000, the City entered into a nonexclusive Cable Television Franchise Agreement with Cox Communications; and,

WHEREAS, Section (C)(1) of Exhibit E, Support of Local Cable Usage, of the 2000 Franchise Agreement states "Following a determination by the Grantor’s City Council that a dedicated educational access channel will provide a meaningful benefit to the community, taking into consideration alternative uses for the channel, and that the channel will be for such use, Grantee will provide to Grantor, at no cost to Grantor, one channel for noncommercial local educational programming;" and,

WHEREAS, on October 16, 2002, the City sent letters to fifteen (15) educational institutions, including public, private and non-profit agencies serving the Palos Verdes Peninsula, soliciting their input on the creation of a dedicated educational access channel; and,

WHEREAS, on November 5, 2002, the City Council considered the feedback received from the educational institutions serving the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the need for a dedicated noncommercial educational access channel on local cable television.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, DETERMINE AND RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: That a dedicated noncommercial educational access channel will provide a meaningful benefit to the community by providing the public and private educational institutions serving the Palos Verdes Peninsula with the opportunity of creating and producing programming for the channel, as well as possibly incorporating the channel into their curriculum. The channel would provide an outlet for local youth to learn about the technical and creative aspects of visual media and would allow them a chance to conceive, write, film, edit and televise their work.

Section 2: That the City Council took into consideration alternative uses for the channel and determined that there is currently sufficient capacity on KCOX Channel 3 for government access. Therefore, the addition of a second governmental access channel is not warranted at this time. However, the City retains its rights under the Exhibit E, Section III of the Franchise Agreement for future increase in channel capacity for educational/governmental access programming.

Section 3: That the dedicated educational channel will be used for a sufficient time to warrant the allocation of a channel for such use because the City will make the channel available to a wide variety of educational institutions serving the Palos Verdes Peninsula, including local public and private schools, community colleges and vocational learning centers, as well as visual and performing arts schools.

Section 4: The City Council hereby directs Cox Communications to establish a dedicated educational access channel on its local cable television network. Furthermore, the educational access channel shall be made available to subscribers as part of the Basic Cable Service package.

PASSED, APPROVED, and ADOPTED this 5th day of November 2002.

___________________________
MAYOR

ATTEST:

______________________
CITY CLERK

State of California )
County of Los Angeles )ss
City of Rancho Palos Verdes )

I, Jo Purcell, City Clerk of The City of Rancho Palos Verdes, hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2002- was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at regular meeting thereof held on November 5, 2002.

___________________________
CITY CLERK

October 16, 2002

«Title» «FirstName» «LastName»
«Company»
«Address1»
«City», «State» «PostalCode»

Re: Cable Television Educational Access Channel

Dear «Title» «LastName»:

When the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council renewed its Franchise Agreement with Cox Communications two years ago, it included a provision for the creation of a dedicated educational access channel. Recently, the City Council has become interested in the possibility of activating this channel. However, in order for the educational channel to become a reality, the City Council must make a determination that the channel will provide a meaningful benefit to the community and that it will be used for a sufficient period of time to warrant its creation.

The City Council has sounded out the idea with a few local educators and, based on the encouragement received so far, is interested in seeking input from the broader spectrum of local educational institutions. As an educational institution serving the Peninsula, the City Council would be very interested in receiving your thoughts and ideas on creating the educational channel and your potential interest in participating.

Although no details have been developed, some of the constraints have been identified. The channel would be limited to non-commercial local educational programming. The City of Rancho Palos Verdes would be responsible for content, but would encourage all the public and private educational institutions serving the Hill to take advantage of the channel, both in terms of creating and producing programming, as well as possibly incorporating the channel into their curriculum. Other ideas are equally welcome. Hopefully, this opportunity would enhance the interest of our youth in the technical and creative aspects of visual media and would allow them a chance to conceive, write, film, edit and televise their work.

The City would like to hear your views as we contemplate the next step. The City Council will be discussing the matter at its November 5, 2002 meeting. As part of the discussion, the Council will consider adopting a Resolution making the required determinations and directing Cox Communications to establish the educational access channel. If the Council decides to move forward, we will seek a suitable format and forum for the institutions that would like to participate in moving this opportunity forward.

If you are interested in participating in the development of a local educational access channel, your written comments or verbal testimony would be welcome at the public meeting, which will be held on November 5, 2002 at Hesse Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, starting at 7:00 p.m. If you have any questions about this proposal, please feel free to contact Carolynn Petru, Assistant City Manager, at 544-5203.

Sincerely,
Les Evans
City Manager

Except from
October 17, 2000 Cable Television Franchise Agreement
Exhibit E, Support of Local Cable Usage

C. Educational Access Channel

(1) Following a determination by the Grantor's City Council that a dedicated educational access channel will provide a meaningful benefit to the community, taking into consideration alternative uses for the channel, and that the channel will be used for a sufficient time to warrant the allocation of a channel for such use, Grantee will provide to Grantor, at no cost to Grantor, one channel for noncommercial local educational programming.

(2) All arrangements to broadcast programming on the educational channel, whether live, tape-delayed, or direct, will be subject to the approval of the Grantor, and any material change in the use of this channel by any person will require the written approval of the Grantor. The Grantor may require that any user of the educational access channel give written notice to the Grantor of any arrangements concerning programming or other matters related to the use of that channel.

(3) The Grantor reserves the right to delegate the operation and management of any future educational access channel to such iniduals or entities as it may select, all of whom must comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations relating to the operations of that channel.

(4) Grantee will not assume control of, nor remove from the Grantor's control, the educational access channel without the Grantor's prior written consent, and without compliance with all applicable FCC rules and regulations.

II. LOCAL ORIGINATION PROGRAMMING

Grantee will accommodate local origination programming and the community bulletin board service on the KCOX local channel.

III. FUTURE INCREASE IN CHANNEL CAPACITY FOR "EG" ACCESS PROGRAMMING

A. Grantee will make available to Grantor, at no cost to Grantor, an additional channel for Grantor’s exclusive use for noncommercial governmental or educational programming purposes, or for both such purposes, within 120 days after receipt of written notice from the Grantor that the additional access capacity is required and that the following criteria have been met:

    1. Governmental Access Channel Use: During any eight consecutive weeks, the existing governmental access channel is in use for the cablecasting of locally-scheduled original programming for 50% of the time during any consecutive five-hour block from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, for twelve consecutive weeks.
    2. Educational Access Channel Use: During any eight consecutive weeks, the educational access channel referenced above in paragraph (C) of Section I is in use for the cablecasting of locally-scheduled original programming for 50% of the time during any consecutive five-hour block from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, for twelve consecutive weeks.

B. For the purpose of this Section III, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "Locally-scheduled" means that the scheduling, selection, or playback of original programming on a per-program basis is determined in consultation with, or in accordance with the operating procedures of, the designated access provider or, with respect to programming received from an interconnection, the provider transmitting the programming over the interconnection. Carriage on any public access channel of all or a substantial portion of any non-local programming that duplicates programming carried by Grantee as a part of its basic or expanded basic cable services will not be considered to be locally scheduled.

(2) "Original programming" means programming in its initial cablecast on the cable system or in its first or second repeat.

IV. FUTURE "EG" ACCESS PROGRAMMING NEEDS

Either party to this Agreement may request that the other party meet and confer to discuss changes in educational or governmental ("EG") access channel requirements, whether attributable to technological developments, changes in viewership statistics, unmet demand for additional EG programming, or other factors. Any modifications to this Exhibit E that are agreed to by the parties will be memorialized in writing.