TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS
FROM: CITY MANAGER
DATE: DECEMBER 19, 2006
SUBJECT: CHANNEL 33 GOVERNANCE
1. Consider and select an alternative for interim and long-term governance.
2. Consider and select an alternative for interim and long-term local programming.
3. Continue to operate Channel 33 under the Interim Polices previously adopted by the City Council.
At the City Council meeting of October 17, 2006, Mayor Pro Tem Long was appointed as the second member of the Cable Television Committee. Councilman Gardiner was appointed to the Committee earlier this year. In addition to consideration of appointments to the Cable Television Committee, Mayor Pro Tem Long requested that the City Council discuss the governance, or authority, of the Committee and provide direction to guide the Committee’s activities. The Council indicated that the Committee should study the matter and report back to the City Council.
Accordingly, the Cable TV Committee met on November 13, 2006 and considered several governance models. The Committee met again on December 11, 2006 to finalize a recommended model for Channel 33 governance.
On November 13, 2006 The Cable TV Committee addressed a matrix (shown below) addressing governance alternatives. It was generally agreed that there were three issues that should be evaluated for any governance alternative. The issues were: (1) Cost; (2) Control (of content); and (3) Content (degree of local programming). In addition to the four governance models discussed in the matrix, the Committee felt that there was a fifth model in which the Cable TV Manager reported directly to the City Council.
The Committee discussed the cost information associated with each governance model included in the agenda material and felt that the cost information was not necessarily related to the type of governance. The Committee agreed that costs were primarily related to the amount of local programming provided. It may be possible to develop additional local programming with the use of volunteers, part-time staffing and independent contractors with an annual budget of about $100,000. Volunteer or paid staff may be costly (the City of West Hollywood spends about $430,000 annually and the City of Commerce spends about $312,000 annually).
The Committee directed the Cable TV Manager and the City Manager to prepare a report for the City Council, to be presented at their December 19, 2006 meeting that would describe:
- What we do now.
- What it costs.
- What the next level up would be.
- What the next level up would be, etc.
THE MATRIX OF GOVERNANCE ALTERNATIVES DISCUSSED BY THE CHANNEL 33 COMMITTEE ON NOVEMBER 13, 2006 IS ATTACHED.
1. A Cable TV (or Channel 33) Subcommittee could continue to exist in any of the models as an advisory body reporting to the City Council.
2. All the governance alternatives described above would be subject to the Brown Act.
What we do now
The management and programming of Channel 33 is governed by three “interim” policies adopted by the City Council. The policies include:
- Production, Programming and Operational Policies and Procedures
- Video Bulletin Board Guidelines
- Underwriting and Sponsorships on Channel 33
Copies of the policies are attached to this report.
Original Council direction was to produce 12 RPV City Talks, the franchise productions and a Video Bulletin board for the first six months to a year as we tested the system. Currently the programming on Channel 33 includes about 5-6 hours each day of local programming (originating on the Peninsula), 8-9 hours of video bulletin board and 10 hours of imported programming. These programs are repeated every day for a week. A description of the programming for the week ending December 17, 2006 is attached to this report.
The cost of producing and broadcasting each local program is about $500 (30-60 minutes), while the cost of broadcasting imported programming is directly related to the length of the program and manpower time to import, inventory and schedule. Each imported program takes approximately 20-30 minutes to set up. Maintaining a current bulletin board takes 5 -6 hours a week of staff time.
A volunteer Cable TV Manager, who is appointed by and reports to the City Council, and two Channel 33 Interns currently staff channel 33. The budget for the Channel 33 program is $35,700 of City General Funds. These funds were originally intended to fund twelve City Talks and a few PSAs. In addition to the General Fund portion of the Channel 33 budget, we have estimated that sponsorships in the amount of $5,000 will be added to the Channel 33 Fund this fiscal year. 8 PSAs and 6 30-minute local programs are produced through the COX franchise agreement.
Next level up
The Cable TV Manager has suggested that the Council may wish to sustain the current increase in locally produced programming. Beginning on January 1, 2007, we will revert back to the 12 RPV City Talks, the VBB and franchise productions. The Cable TV Manager will explain to the Council that she will not be able to meet any of their requests, public requests, other agency requests, etc. unless they are willing to pay $500 for the production to cover our costs. She reminds us that the originally approved budget provided for about 1½ hours of new local programming monthly (disallowing for the increased programming as part of the testing phase), which included the COX franchise productions at no cost to the City except for scheduling and broadcasting. The Cable TV Manager has estimated that each additional hour (completed programming) would cost about $500. It would cost an additional $102,500 to sustain the increased local produced programming from its original 20/year to the tested 100/year (1½ per month to 8-9 per month), which is the production level that the City can successfully maintain under the current structure. This cost estimate assumes that the same programming is repeated several times each week, as is the present case. The Cable TV Manager has provided three scenarios for a Channel 33 operating budget. The scenarios are attached.
The Cable TV Committee has not recommended either a governance alternative or a local programming option. They ask that the City Council review and consider each of the alternatives presented and provide direction. The Cable TV Manager has provided a spreadsheet of budget alternatives (attached) for Council consideration.
Attachments: Matrix of Governance Alternatives
Channel 33 Program Guide
Channel 33 Budget Options