Q & A | Question Four – Net Neutral Funding 2019 Levels in 2024

Study with intent to change the delivery of community media in CT

Provide and discuss recommendations regarding how to effectuate the consolidations of community access operations to ensure that any recommended increase to the remaining community access organizations’ operational and capital budgets is at minimum net neutral to the average funding collected from the applicable franchise area.

Special Act 22-23 mandates a study be conducted by PURA | NONPROFIT COMMUNITY ACCESS TELEVISION IN CT |4th Question to all participants

Full-scale consolidation is not an optimal choice for nonprofit CAPs. However, selective modifications to our configuration could optimize services, increase our relevance and be cost-effective while maintaining the unique characteristics of CT’s diverse communities.

Recommendation 1: Review Channel Capacity and reallocation of Education content to the Public and Government Channels, if current channel use does not directly support local education programs. School Sports can be Public. BOE Meetings can be Government.

Are there communities with more channel capacity than needed?  Yes

Are there CAPS that have never been able to provide the targeted 13-play threshold? Yes.

In 2005, channel capacity was reviewed without consensus: Docket 05-09-07  DPUC Review of Regulations Regarding the Required Number of Community Access Channels. Regional and town-specific access centers held very different views then. That has not changed. But detailed scrutiny of services will show that our state has some vital community media and much that is stuck in the last century. We can do better. Updating to HD, stabilizing funding and processes, and reviewing the extreme sizes, large and small for reconfigurations that serve local cost-effectively.

Since 2005, the technology landscape has changed significantly. Community media stations need the same capacity as other cable channels to be viewed in accordance with viewer habits and lifestyles. Viewers are highly unlikely to watch a 20-minute  bulletin board scroll of announcements when they can instantly search for information, or post a question in a social media forum. Snow closing announcements are no longer the hallmark of education channels. The short-form video has a significantly greater potential to be viewed than long-form but good short-form is more labor intensive.

Scheduling a channel 24 x7 with short-form content is very labor-intensive. It can take a minimum of three times longer to schedule a public channel that is supporting short-form content than a government channel with hours of meeting coverage.

Recommendation 2: Eliminate Advisory Council. The role of the Advisory Council has been diminished with the elimination of franchise renewals. Consumer cases no longer are handled by them. Most are not fully appointed. They have not actively represented community media providers in any regulatory capacity. Company government relations representatives no longer attend more than the minimum of two meetings per year.

The $2,000 and the cost of government relations participation and overall communications could help reduce the annual company costs.

Recommendation 3:  Consolidate organizations that already share resources and distribute nearly identical content.

Recommendation 4:  Encourage the transition of corporate-run to nonprofit-run centers such that independent centers affiliated with corporate are fully enabled to serve their communities and build upon their strong volunteer resources.

Recommendation 5: Adhere to the outcomes of the dockets such as reviewed PEGPETIA administration 071011re01-102319.

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