MCTV says county is still shortchanging Coastside on cable fees

Why wait till Wednesday?

By on Tue, March 28, 2006

Click on the image to download the county's staff report.

MCTV, the Coastside’s cable access Channel 6, is still unhappy with the county’s proposed allocation of franchise fees from Comcast.  The county’s approach to allocating special fees collected from Coastside customers to MCTV has improved from a plan to give none of the money collected on the Coastside to the Coastside’s public access access station. But the current proposal gives only a third of the money collected on the Coastside to MCTV and uses the remainder to build a Bayside network [PDF of county staff recommendations].

Comcast will collect $.55 per subscribing household over the next 15 years to pay for two things: (1) $380,000 in cash for capital items for public, educational, and government (PEG) stations, i.e. MCTV and Pen TV, and (2)$620,000 to build a fiber optic network (called INET) connecting county offices and Pen TV to allow for the transmission of live programming.

About 22% of the funds will be collected from Comcast subscribers on the Coastside. Pen TV provides programming to Bayside cable systems.

County staff has proposed to the Board of Supervisors that MCTV receive 22% of the PEG capital grants, about $83,000. But the entire $620,000 would be spent to INET, which will not connect to the Coastside, although 22% of its cost will be collected from Coastside subscribers.

MCTV wants the county to allocate another $140,000 (22% of the $620,000 for INET) to it as well. They argue that the fiber network will not benefit Coastsiders, and that $83,000 would be insufficient for MCTV’s capital needs over the next 15 years.

Because the $620,000 is being provided to the county as in-kind services by Comcast in building the fiber network, MCTV proposes to take the additional $140,000 out of $398,000 in cash for PEG capital spending.

The supervisors are likely to take this up again at their April 4 meeting, and MCTV is asking Coastsiders to show up and support them.