Newspaper logo  
 
 
  City Council Considers Contract Amendments for Public Access TV

LOCAL ANALYSIS:

City Council Considers Contract Amendments for Public Access TV

By Joan Floyd

Even if proposed amendments to a 12-year contract between Comcast and the City of Baltimore are approved by the City Council, their vague wording makes Channel 5’s survival unlikely.
“City Council Votes to Kill Public Access TV”--This may be the unintended consequence if the City Council continues to approve Bill 04-1504 with its new amendments.

At a recent committee meeting, several City Council members asked questions of the City Law Department in an apparent effort to understand new amendments proposed for a 12-year contract between Comcast and the City before approving them. As this was a voting session, not a hearing, there was no opportunity for the public to comment on the amendments.

It was clear from the Council members’ questions, however, that they wanted assurances that there would be some support in Bill 04-1504 for Public Access TV, in sharp contrast with Mayor Martin O’Malley’s position. In an interview in The Sun, O’Malley is quoted as saying that Public Access TV is not a critical need being demanded by city neighborhoods, and that “Public Access has been totally eclipsed by the Internet.” Critics pointed out that this statement was peculiar, coming as it did from a Mayor who just recently announced, with great fanfare, that offering more creative outlets for expression could reduce destructive teenage behavior.

While the Mayor can pretend that nobody cares about this issue, the City Council members saw the crowd at a public rally in October and the packed house at the subsequent public hearing. They sat through the work session about the contract, and received numerous calls, letters and e-mails expressing support for Public Access TV. While these Council members may want to respond to the citizens’ desire for Public Access, however, they will ultimately be to blame if Public Access TV fails. The Mayor will be able to say to them, “You knew my position, you saw the amendments, and you approved them, so it’s on you.”

What do the proposed amendments mean for the future of Public Access TV?

They appear to provide for a corporation to run Public Access TV, and to make sure that one-third of the 50-cent cable subscriber fee goes to fund Public Access TV. But here is how these amendments begin:

“Upon the enactment of this Ordinance, the City agrees to select and convene a Board of Incorporators to work with the City to create a public access entity to be responsible for the management of public access cable television programming.”

While Council members may want to respond to the citizens’ desire for Public Access, they will ultimately be to blame if Public Access TV fails.

Under this model, a successful Public Access corporation start-up is estimated to take 18 months, according to DC public access TV. However, there is no timeline in this amendment for creation of the Public Access corporation, and no provision for what will happen in the meantime. There is no guarantee that a public access corporation will ever be created. There is not even a commitment that the Mayor-appointed Board of Incorporators will ever be convened; there is only language saying that the City “agrees” to convene it. That is not the same as saying, “The City shall select and convene a Board of Incorporators within so many months.” The Mayor’s attorneys have been very careful to leave out that kind of language.

The amendment goes on to say that Public Access TV will only start receiving one-third of the 50-cent subscriber fee once the Public Access entity is up and running. So it isn’t hard to see how subscribers’ money will keep flowing into the Mayor’s Government Access TV operation for quite some time, if not indefinitely. (The Mayor hasn’t said that we can do without GovernmentAccess TV--only that we can do without Public Access TV.) Even if the public’s one-third portion of the subscriber fee does materialize, it is legally restricted in its use to such things as equipment and facilities, and cannot be used to pay staff to run a Public Access TV operation. There is still no money in Bill 04-1504 for day-to-day operations.

All in all, the amendments paint a very bleak picture for the future of Public Access TV in Baltimore. Since the Mayor can appoint, or not appoint, a Board of Incorporators on whatever timeline he chooses, and since none of the money can legally flow to Public Access TV until that Board of Incorporators has set up a Public Access TV corporation, citizens could effectively see the end of Public Access TV on the day Bill 04-1504 becomes law.

It is extremely important, therefore, that City Council members understand exactlywhat they are voting for, what these amendments actually mean, and what level of commitment to Public Access TV there really is in this contract, before they rubber-stamp it at the City Council meeting on Monday, December 6. If Public Access TV is dead on arrival, they will be the ones who could have prevented it, but didn’t.


Joan Floyd, a Remington resident and former newspaper editor, was a 2004 Green Party candidate for City Council President, garnering over 16% of the vote.

Note: There are currently three cable channels overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Cable Communications; Channel 21, operated by the city government, is funded by a $1.1 million allocation in the city budget; Channel 6, designated for education, has no city funding, nor does Public Access Channel 5. The latter has been broadcasting independently-produced programs and videos provided by volunteers, but there is currently no assurance it will be able to continue beyond January 1, 2005.




Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on November 30, 2004.

 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

01.18 Learning From Cuba’s ‘Medicare for All’

01.17 As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe' [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization? [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

01.17 Studies Show Ice Melting and Ocean Warming Both Happening Much Faster Than Previously Thought

01.16 Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.16 Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic [charts]

01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]

01.15 Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think

01.15 Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

01.15 Barclays on wrong side of history with climate policy, says Greenpeace

01.15 'One fish at a time': Indonesia lands remarkable victory

01.15 Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

01.14 V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care [The most public and efficient healthcare in America has been demonized and will be destroyed rather than improved, raising total  per-capita costs]

01.14 Saudi Arabia Increases Solar Targets To 20 Gigawatts By 2023 & 40 Gigawatts By 2030

01.14 Solar + Storage Half The Cost Of Gas Peaker Plants — 8MinuteEnergy

01.14 Why thousands of Los Angeles teachers are going on strike [Well at least we got a big tax-cut for the super-rich, that was the most important thing.]

01.14 Air pollution 'as bad as smoking in increasing risk of miscarriage'

01.09 Dutch eco initiative halves energy bills in first UK homes

01.09 'It's a nightmare': Americans' health at risk as shutdown slashes EPA

01.08 Monarch butterfly numbers plummet 86 percent in California [0:58 video; Do You Care?]

01.08 Carbon emissions up as Trump agenda rolls back climate change work [Making America Less  Great Again]

News Media Matters

01.19 How conservative media became a “safe space”

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

01.19 The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?

01.19 Donald Trump Has Never Cared About Workers, and Never Will

01.19 Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth [Sociopaths have little or no conscience, empathy or morality...]

01.19 Arizona: Four women convicted after leaving food and water in desert for migrants [morality is against the law]

01.19 Mueller breaks silence to dispute parts of bombshell report on Michael Cohen

01.18 “Are We Really Where We Are?”: Trump, Putin, and Washington’s Unbelievable New Normal

01.18 With Mattis Gone, Trump Is Already Sowing More Global Chaos [Trump plays General—what could go wrong...]

01.18 The Right’s Case Against Soaking the Rich Is Dirt Poor

01.18 Trump Worsens the Border Crisis

01.18 Impeach Donald Trump

01.18 President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project [An impeachable offense]

01.18 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020 [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 These 2020 hopefuls are courting Wall Street. Don't be fooled by their progressive veneer

01.17 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lambasts US government shutdown in first House speech [3:27 video; Intelligent government is desperately needed]

Justice Matters

01.15 The US apparently kept no detailed notes of Trump-Putin meetings for the past 2 years

01.15 California’s largest utility just declared bankruptcy. Hello, climate change.

12.28 Mueller closes in: what will the Trump-Russia inquiry deliver in 2019?

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

01.17 Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people [chock-full of pesky facts that government and media ignore and distort]

International & Futurism

01.19 The Ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo is moving toward a major city. That’s not good.

01.19 Ahead of Third Annual Women's March, Group Releases Far-Reaching 'Intersectional Feminist Policy Platform'

01.17 +++ Brexit crisis: Germany and Europe react — live updates +++

01.17 White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It's not [More equality requires us to fix ignored and distorted problems]

01.16 Global tensions holding back climate change fight, says WEF [Consistently stupid and harmful policies... Seeing a pattern?]

01.16 How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: