|Back To Agenda||Print Page|
TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL
FROM: CABLE TELEVISION AD HOC COMMITTEE
DATE: DECEMBER 17, 2002
SUBJECT: EDUCATIONAL ACCESS CHANNEL
On September 17, 2002, the City Council established a Cable Television Ad Hoc Subcommittee, consisting of (then) Mayor McTaggart and Councilman Gardiner, to explore the possibility of maximizing the City’s use of local cable access under the current Franchise Agreement with Cox Communications. 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.
As reported by Councilman Gardiner at the October 15, 2002 City Council meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee met with Cox Communications 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 Committee directed staff to send out letters to local educational institutions soliciting their input regarding the creation of a local educational access channel and inviting them to attend the November 5, 2002 City Council meeting to discuss the matter.
On October 16, 2002, staff sent letters to the following fifteen local educational institutions:
The City received responses from the Palos Verdes Unified School District, Rolling Hills Country Day School and Los Angeles Harbor College prior to the November 5, 2002 City Council meeting. All three institutions indicated an interest in learning more about the opportunity to utilize an educational access channel. In addition to these responses, El Camino College was represented at the November 5, 2002 Council meeting and expressed the opinion that the creation of an educational channel serving the Peninsula would be an excellent idea and would be supported by El Camino College.
After receiving testimony and discussing the educational access channel idea, the City Council directed staff to invite representatives of interested parties to meet with the Ad Hoc Committee to discuss various issues including how they would utilize an educational channel if it were available and what resources they might offer to support the channel. Minutes of the November 5, 2002 Council meeting are attached. The Committee was asked to report back to Council on December 17, 2002.
On December 1, 2002 the Educational Access Channel Developmental Workshop was held at City Hall. The attendees included:
Each representative briefly summarized their current video production capabilities and described their needs and resources. The group then focused on a set of issues that included:
After it was determined that the only formal requirement to create the educational channel was to give Cox Communications thirty days notice and there was no "minimum" programming requirement, most of the discussion centered on "policies and procedures."
The workshop attendees agreed there is a need to make policy decisions on a long list of "programming rules." The policies should address:
The group also agreed that prior to "launch" the cost of the channel must be identified as well as a method of publicizing the programming. Paul Fornelli, of Cox Communications, warned that there were some very difficult issues that would have to be addressed as the City approves programming and scheduling. Marty DeSollar, also of Cox Communications, added that the policies should all be in place before we start the programming.
Other issues that were raised by the group as important issues to be addressed included;
Notes from the meeting are attached.
On Friday afternoon, December 5, 2002, the AD Hoc Committee met to follow-up on the information gained from the December 1, 2002 Workshop. The Ad Hoc Committee made the following decisions:
The workshop discussion made it clear that controlling the content and quality of the programming to be offered on the proposed educational channel could become the most difficult and controversial part of operating the channel. The Ad Hoc Committee felt that, at least during the start-up period, only the City would provide programming for the channel. This approach would avoid the potential of trying to evaluate a possible flood of material that may not meet the City’s education programming objectives, or invite legal challenges to use of the channel. Should the City feel that more programming is needed, a request for statements of interest in providing specific programming can be utilized.
Objectives of the Educational Access Channel
The Ad Hoc Committee wants to focus on educational opportunities, primarily for youth, in the creative and technical aspects of video production. They visualize young people preparing scripts, producing, directing, filming and editing material for the channel. In order to accomplish this goal, the City will require the use of a fully equipped studio over which it has control, and personnel who can supervise and train the participants. PV on the Net has offered to provide up to three video editing stations and trained staff to operate the City studio. Gabriella Holt has agreed to lend her expertise to the creative aspects of the program including script writing, producing and directing.
The Ad Hoc Committee determined that a City-controlled studio would be required in order to meet the objectives they have set for the Educational Access Channel. Currently, the former Cox Communications Studio at the Civic Center is not being utilized and has a floor plan and cable access that makes it ideal for use as the City studio. However, the building has been used for storage by Cox for many years and needs major cleaning and refurbishment prior to being suitable for use as a studio. Major roof repairs, plumbing and electrical upgrades, installation of air conditioning and
Cleaning and painting need to be accomplished. These upgrades and major repairs are eligible for funding from the City’s Building Replacement Fund.
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 may be required to develop, produce and edit the programming that will be shown on the channel. Cox communications has provided an estimate of costs for various facility improvements, equipment and staffing. Those estimates are attached.
The cost of re-furbishing the Cable TV studio ($50,000) could be borne by the Building Replacement Fund that currently has a balance of about $1 million. The cost of camera and editing equipment, etc. ($75,000) could be taken from the projected General Fund Reserve available for appropriation (which is the Total General Fund Reserve less the General Fund Reserve policy level of $6,451,870). The current balance of this fund is $179,318. Operating costs should be charged to current General Fund revenues. Our current approved operating expenditures are slightly greater (about $25,000) than estimated General Fund revenues.
Resolution No. 2002-