Cable TV Must Move, Budget Committee Says

WPCNR MEDIA-GO ROUND. By John F. Bailey. May 6, 2014:

Steve Hochman, as part of his statement on behalf of the Budget and Management Committee  commenting on the city budget at the Monday evening public hearing on the budget, spent half the statement  delivering  a homily on the future of White Plains Cable Television.

He said the Budget and Management Committee , based on  a survey of three other municipally operated Cable TV stations in Westchester County, and a detailed review of White Plains Cable Finances and a tour of the New Castle Community Media Center in the Chappaqua Library…recommends installing stationary cameras, lighting (LED) and a control panel in Common Council Chambers (and presumably the Mayor’s conference room where the real action takes place, but that was not clear) to save money.

The Committee urges moving the studio to the White Plains Library, which would save  $60,000 (space rental, utility and facility repair costs) out of WPCTV’s $680,000 budget (part of the $176.1 Million proposed city budget.The Committee feels a studio in the library “would raise the profile of WPCTV. Given the heavy foot traffic and central location (with parking—editor’s note :paid parking) of the library, more residents and community groups are bound to access Cable TV facilities and their offerings.”

The library location, Hochman’s statement said, would encourage “synergies, broadcasting additional public content and disseminating Library book talks, children’s story times, teen workshops, concerts, classes, lectures.”

The Budget and Management Committee envisions the new proposed library location  would “encourage partnership with (and funding from) community groups such as area colleges, the White Plains City School District, and not-for-profits. There would also be more space in the Library to offer affordable summer and holiday camp programs in conjunction with the City’s Recreation and Parks Department or Youth Bureau.

The funding of the move is envisioned coming from Cable company grants. (Editor’s note:   Cablevision the city’s largest cable provider (with approximately 15,000 subscriber’s about 6,000 less than they had before Verizon FIOS came in to the city)  has paid no capital grants to the television station  for the last 8 years because the city has not negotiated a new contract with Cablevision yet. Cablevision franchise fees are being paid at the former contract payment levels.)

The Committee recommends the city employing a consultant to help design the studio with technology improvements installing equipment “appropriate for filming in a new studio in the White Plains Library and in the Council Chambers with an emphasis on digital formats, reliability, operational cost effectiveness and user flexibilty.”

It also recommends the television station should be under the control of a city department (“a direct reporting line be established between Cable TV and a City Department”)  They suggest either the Office of the Mayor, the White Plains Public Library or Department of Recreation and Parks.

The Committee believes cable management should “focus on developing and expanding the scope of activities for the wider community, while enhancing potential new revenue sources for Cable TV operations.”

Finally, the Committee proposes city budgeted funding of WPCTV instead of the present split between the city and the Cable TV commission which the city has taken more of in recent budgets. The Committee advises that the budget would be supplemented by the Grants and PEG funding.

They urge the city to complete the legal research to determine “an appropriate structure” for the Cable TV Access Commission; prepare a consultant agreement, and confer with the Library Board of Trustees and Cable TV Access Commission to operate Cable TV in the Library.”

No other member of the public showed up to comment on  the budget.

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