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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 02, 2010

Metropolitan Area Communications Commission Not Drastically Cutting Public Access

By Nathesh, TMCnet Contributor

The Metropolitan Area Communications Commission is cutting public access at Tualatin Valley Community TV, but not as first proposed.

The 14 commissioners, who represent city and county governments across Clackamas and Washington counties, voted 10-4 to reduce public access operations while still allowing residents to rent video and editing equipment from the cable access network. The deeper cut to public access was proposed to save more money.

The main mission of MACC is to serve the public interest through developing, overseeing, evaluating and promoting an area-wide cable communication system, and acting as a forum on communication issues and alternatives. 

Following the September meeting, MACC staff and the Finance Committee developed a broad scope of service level options for the Public Access program. Options for the Commission ranged from no Public Access production services at all, no studio or equipment, to a service level that is similar to the currently provided program with significant studio availability and free use of equipment. At this meeting, dozens of people implored the commission not to cut the public's access to TVCTV's studio and equipment.

TVCTV, a manager of Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) Access channels on the area cable systems though the Metropolitan Area Communications Commission, stated that it is facing fewer revenues from franchise fees and soon will lose its $1-a-year rent at Beaverton's Arts & Communication Magnet Academy. 

Beaverton City Councilor Cathy Stanton has been the commission's most vocal supporter of keeping public access. On Thursday, she told commissioners worried about declining budgets that "money is always an issue, but it's an issue because services are to be provided. And this is a service that Beaverton would like to provide."

MACC staff stated that the approved plan will cost the 14 governments a total of $790,667 a year in staff and lease costs as well as a minimum of $425,000 in renovations. If the MACC had given a green signal to the proposed terms in its September meeting then all equipment rental as well as live public access programming would have been eliminated. Instead the commission chose not to deeply cut the cable access.

Nathesh is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Nathesh's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard