Posts Tagged ‘franchise’

Changes in 2010

February 3, 2010

Our Executive Director John Patterson sent an important e-mail to Pittsburgh Community Television producers about the changes to the station and the way the programming will be handled in the next couple of months. Click here to read the entirety of the e-mail. Here are some important excerpts:

1. The Seven Major Changes
2. Programming Diversity
3. Financial Resources
4. Open Meeting

1. The Seven Major Changes

Programming: PCTV will develop and nurture a greater diversity of community oriented programming representative of the diverse needs and interests of Pittsburgh residents.

Facilities and Equipment: PCTV will address vital equipment and facility needs in the areas of field production, editing, and program playback.

Training: PCTV will expand its training programs to encompass new media such as social networking, blogging, and vlogging.

Youth Media: PCTV will develop collaborations that expand opportunities for youth at PCTV.

Financial Resources: PCTV will diversify revenue streams to include sources beyond funds received through the cable franchise.

Organization: PCTV will strengthen organizational accountability and governance through targeted changes and the completion of a strategic plan.

Website: PCTV will complete the phase one conversion of its website to Web 2.0.

2. Programming Diversity

Perhaps the most important goal for the year, and the one that will involve the most change for you as a producer, will be our effort to increase programming diversity. In our talks with the City, this came up again and again as an area of concern. The strength of the traditional public access model is its emphasis on first-come first-served access. In and of itself, however, this approach does not ensure a range of different kinds of programming. In our discussions with the City, it became clear that a new approach is needed.

For many years, PCTV has programmed its channel via series lottery. Producers indicate their time preference and names are drawn at random. Beginning in the second half of the year, this practice will change. Instead, we will divide the programming week into blocks of different types of programming. For example, Monday Nights might be community events and neighborhoods, Tuesdays Youth, Wednesdays Sports and Recreation, Thursday Music and Entertainment, etc. Your programs will be scheduled based on the block that they fit in, rather than a random drawing.

This is a radical change for PCTV and you may wonder why we are taking this step. There are several reasons. Number one, we feel this is the best way to stimulate a diversity of programming. Setting aside a block of hours each week for certain types of programming allows us to identify areas we are weak in and take steps to develop new programs. Second, it helps build viewership by breaking down the schedule into blocks that make it easier for people to find the programs they want to see. Finally, it provides a way for PCTV to generate income through business underwriting (more on this below).

A key part of my vision at PCTV is the development of new programming through partnerships with other organizations and through collaboration with community producers. For example, I’d like to have a block of programming on PCTV that focuses on job training and help for those seeking work. In order to develop that programming, we may partner with an organization that has expertise in that area, or work with a community producer that has an interest in creating that type of programming. Working together in this way, we will begin to diversify programming on PCTV.

3. Financial Resources

To be frank, the funds available via the cable franchise are not going to be sufficient in the long-term. As an organization, PCTV needs to become more entrepreneurial and develop other ways of generating income. Two of the key ways we are going to begin doing that this year are through the launching of an underwriting program for businesses, and the development of a studio rental and production-for-hire program.

4. Open Meeting

In the coming months we will be sharing more information about these and other changes. In order to provide a forum to discuss these changes and address other issues related to community producing, I would like to invite all of you to an open meeting at PCTV on March 29th at 6 pm.

Click here for the entire e-mail.

And as always, if you have any questions, please call 412-322-7570 or send us an e-mail at info@pctv21.org. Let us know your thoughts regarding all of this in the comments section. Thanks!!

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Help Us SAVE ACCESS in Pittsburgh!

June 30, 2009

Talking Points for Meetings and Letters to the City:
CABLE FRANCHISE PROCESS WITH VERIZON AND RENEWAL WITH COMCAST: BIG OPPORTUNITIES OR A HUGE LOSS TO THE CITY

  • Cable franchise process can assure state of the art communications services are provided in ALL areas of Pittsburgh, by both Verizon and Comcast.
  • Can help assure that Nonprofit Organizations, Neighborhood and Citizen Groups, and Schools have the ability to effectively use Media to accomplish their goals.
  • Federal and State laws allow the City to negotiate agreements that include channels, equipment, facilities and services for use by the public and nonprofit organizations.

o In exchange for letting Verizon and Comcast make hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 10 years through these cable franchise agreements.

  • In 2008, City asked PCTV to conduct a needs assessment to determine what should be in a franchise with Verizon, and in a renewal franchise with Comcast.
  • PCTV hired a highly experienced consulting firm to conduct the needs assessment and provided it to the City. It included:

o Telephone survey

o Community meetings and focus group sessions

o On-Line Survey

o Three huge reports documenting public input

  • Needs Assessment indicated that there is VERY strong support and interest in PEG access channels and having a Community Media Center.
  • Updated equipment, facilities, and training are needed to create and expand local Pittsburgh programs for the PEG access channels.
  • PCTV should be funded to evolve into a modern Community Media Center that:

o Provides technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and community groups;

o Takes video and digital media services and equipment into underserved neighborhoods;

o Provides media literacy training to youth and others; and

o Adapts to changes in media technology and culture

  • Verizon and Comcast should provide expanded channel capacity, funding, and support for public and educational access to significantly improve the existing PCTV facilities, equipment and services, which are currently INADEQUATE to meet current and future community needs.

Community Producers, We Need You!

June 30, 2009

From Gladys Jelks, Acting Director, concerning the franchise renewal process:

ACTION ALERT!

To:  All PCTV Community Producers, Guests, Viewers and Friends
Re:  Franchise Renewal Update:

Q:  When do we need to mobilize on behalf of PCTV and franchise renewal?”
A:  The time is NOW!

We learned late on Friday afternoon that the Mayor’s Office and Verizon had “finalized” the key terms of the franchise agreement with Verizon.  We are VERY concerned that those negotiations may seriously shortchange Pittsburgh nonprofit organizations and residents with regard to public and educational access. While we do not have certainty about the specifics of the “key terms” of the Verizon franchise, preliminary information indicates that franchise may fall short of meeting the public expectations as documented in the Needs Assessment.  We’ve also been told that the City wants to rush this franchise to approval prior to the summer recess.  This could be an enormous long term loss to Pittsburgh nonprofit groups, community producers, and residents!  However, the agreement has not been etched in stone.  Your participation at this critical time is vital in letting the City Council and Mayor’s office know the vision, value and need for community media in Pittsburgh.

How you can help: 

  • Get guests who have appeared on your show to contact the council and mayor as well.  

We have prepared several things to make it easy for you to write your letter/email and have a meeting with the Council members and Mayor.  They include a one-page “Talking Points for Meetings and Letters to City” and a short bulleted document called “Impact of Franchise Agreement between Verizon and the City”.  The Impact document provides a short bullet list of what needs to be included in any franchise between Verizon and the City or between Comcast and the City.

We will also keep you posted if a public hearing is scheduled on the franchise renewal process.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in keeping community media alive in Pittsburgh.

Please act NOW!

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Note: I’ll be adding the “Talking Points for Meetings and Letters to City” in the next blog post, but if you’d like a copy of the “Impact of Franchise Agreement between Verizon and the City”, send an e-mail to christie@pctv21.org.