Cable Advisory: MCAC Minutes
mik - Sun, Nov 7, 2004, 12:00 A
MCAC Minutes 11/3/04
Minutes from the Montague Cable Advisory Committee (MCAC) Meeting on 11/3/04
Present: John Reynolds, Mike Naughton, Roy Rosenblatt, Chris Sawyer-Lauçanno, Sam Gilford

Chair, John Reynolds, called the meeting to order at 7:09 p.m.

Minutes from the 10/13/04 meeting were approved unanimously.

The second item on the agenda was the conducting of a public hearing on the local access criteria circulated on and in The Montague Reporter in the form revised at the 10/13 meeting.

Participants in the audience made a variety of comments in response to Johns reading of the Criteria.

Mik Meuller asked what was meant by the proposed organization must demonstrate a strong commitment to PEG programming. John noted that the intention was that the proposal show this. Roy suggested that a proposing entity submit a workplan detailing this commitment, not that the organization needed to have prior experience with providing PEG programming. John emphasized that the first section dealt with general matters; the next sections with specifics of what the MCAC wanted in a proposal. Mik also read a statement from Jeff Singleton which asked, among other items, that Montague citizens be represented on the Board of Directors.

The next question, also from Mik, was about monitoring customer satisfaction. All on the MCAC agreed that this was not easy but that the MCAC wanted to see some sort of proposal for monitoring satisfaction. Mike Langnecht, also in attendance in the audience, asked whether we were seeking to monitor technical or programming quality. Chris suggested that the issue was programming. A lively discussion then followed as to what constituted satisfaction. Mike Naughton suggested that it was up to the provider to suggest how satisfaction could best be measured.

The next major topic for discussion was from Mik, regarding the issue that the designated provider ensure an acceptable level of technical quality. The issue here, as clarified by Mike Langnecht, was whether the provider should be responsible for non-studio originated programming. He felt it was important to differentiate between provider material and submitted material. After some back and forth on the issue, John suggested that it was up to the provider to make sure that a program shown on the channel be of sufficient technical quality that the audio and video quality be of a caliber that most viewers could recognize as viewable. He then asked Marty McGuane, also present in the audience, what GCTVs policy was. Marty declined to comment, saying that he was there only as an observer, but that GCTV did have a policy.

The next major item for discussion centered on what was meant by the MCACs calling for broadcast (corrected by Marty to cablecast) of Town Meetings, etc. Mike Farrick, in attendance, noted that covering other government meetings aside from the Selectboard and Town Meeting would depend on manpower. The MCAC members agreed that this was an issue which, as Mike Naughton pointed out, was why we had added the clause in consultation with the provider. He also noted, however, that the MCAC expected the provider to air government programming and that the provider must have a plan to do this.

The next item for discussion was that of maintaining a library. Marty noted that all producers at GCTV must donate a finished program to the station and that currently GCTV has over 10,000 titles in its library. Mike Farrick suggested that this was a normal price for the use of a stations equipment. Marty then stated that while he agreed, the program was the intellectual property of the producer, and that the tape could not circulate but be viewed only ion the studio. The MCAC agreed that this was what they had in mind. Other issues on this topic included the feasibility of digitizing tape so that it was available on a DVDa process currently underway at GCTV. Mike Naughton suggested that the topic needed further discussion at the MCAC level but that we needed to move on.

The last major discussion of the hearing focused on the legal criteria. Sammy wanted to know why legal counsel hadnt prepared this. John responded that before this could become an RFP it would have to go through counsel, and that these were only suggestions of what the MCAC absolutely wanted legally in a possible RFP. Roy noted that all but one of the items (annual review) have to be in place. Roy also noted that contracts have to be limited to three years unless Town Meeting votes otherwise.

As the hearing came to an end, Mike Langnecht asked what the structure of the process was and whether there was a timetable for action. Roy stated that under Chapter 30B of the Mass General Laws the town was required to ask for an RFP. Sammy questioned whether 30B really applied. Roy said he felt it did as the amount of money involved required it. Marty McGuane spoke up that since taxpayer money was not involved 30B was pointless, and that Comcast money was not subject to 30B. Roy answered that while Comcast was not in control of the money, the Town was, and therefore 30B applied. He also noted that the AG was unclear on the matter but that he felt the Town should still follow Chapter 30B and issue an RFP.

As to the question of the timetable, Mike Naugton asked whether the MCAC should submit a final document to the Selectboard or meet with the Board in advance to go over our ideas. The consensus was that the MCAC should submit a final document with its recommendations to the Board rather than involve them needlessly in our process.

The public hearing segment of the meeting adjourned at 8:15. The MCAC members stayed on, however, to discuss the issues brought up during the meeting and to revise the Criteria in response to the suggestions and questions. During the deliberation, the Local Access Criteria was further revised (see Appendix A). Roy said that he would try to put together a draft RFP for the next meeting. He asked Chris to write up a preamble to the document regarding the background of local access in Montague. Chris agreed. The meeting adjourned at 9:33.

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Sawyer-Laucanno

Appendix A: Revised Local Access Criteria (11/3/04)


Local Access Criteria (Working Draft for Public Comment)

· The proposed organization must be a 501(c)(3) corporation and must furnish evidence of this including by-laws, and membership on board of directors.
· The proposed organization must maintain a studio in Montague.
· The proposed organization must demonstrate a strong commitment to providing PEG (Public, Educational, Government) programming to the Montague community.
· Preference will be given to organizations with experience in providing local access
· Montague residents must be represented on the Board of Directors

Specific: Each proposal should contain the following from each proposing organization:

· a mission statement;
· an organizational plan;
· a 3-year business plan that demonstrates allocation of resources, a capital plan, a financial plan including a line-item first-year of operation budget, as well as staffing plans, program development, community involvement, and proposed community training
· job descriptions;
· personnel policies
· a proposal for monitoring on an ongoing basis community needs, interests and concerns;
· a proposal for monitoring on an ongoing basis customer/community satisfaction;
· a proposal for enhancing basic funding through grants, underwriting, etc. Any history of acquiring grants for public access purposes should be included;
· a detailed inventory of present equipment in working condition that could be used for local access purposes and/or what equipment the organization plans to purchase over the first three years to enhance community programming;
· a proposal demonstrating how the organization intends to conduct workshops in the community facility; what the topics will be; and a proposed schedule for these workshops;
· A statement describing how the organization will manage and maintain PEG programming including outreach to the community and schools;

The designated provider will:

·be responsible for programming free from censorship;
· be non-discriminatory in its hiring of staff and/or independent producers;
· make the studio available on a fixed schedule;
· provide detailed quarterly reports to the Cable Advisory Committee and the Selectboard regarding activities, income and expenses. The report shall include all capital expenditures and a current inventory reflecting equipment purchased and retired and expenditure of resources. .
· be responsible for establishing reasonable standards for acceptable ensuring an acceptable level of technical quality of all programs;
· maintain a log of programming available to the general public.
· maintain a written complaint/compliment file available to the general public.
· broadcast Cablecast all Ttown Mmeetings, all Selectboard meetings and, as determined by the MCAC in consultation with the provider, other important government meetings or public hearings.
·maintain a library of recent and current local access programs
· provide and maintain a community calendar as a PSA
· make every reasonable effort to encourage Montague-based programming

Contract Terms (these are suggestions; the MCAC recognizes that standard contract terms must be included per town counsel)

· a contract should be issued by the Selectboard to the chosen local access provider for a term of three years;
· the designated provider will maintain workers compensation, liability, general comprehensive and non-owned vehicle liability insurance naming the Town as co-insured in force throughout the term of the contract and will provide the Town with certificates showing compliance;
· the designated provider will require every access user to indemnify the Town and hold both harmless against any claims arising out of any program material produced and/or cablecast;
· the Town will assume the cost and responsibility for insuring Town-owned equipment used to meet the local access needs;
· Annually, within 90 days of the anniversary of the contract, the designated provider will take part in a public performance evaluation overseen by the Cable Advisory Committee. The purpose will be to determine whether the provider is performing its duties pursuant to this contract.
· The contract may be terminated by the Town if the designated provider files for bankruptcy or is found, after the annual review, to be in serious breach of its responsibilities to the citizens of Montague.