County recommends Pacifica TV get MCTV’s contract

Breaking News

Posted by on Fri, February 18, 2011

San Mateo County Public Works Department has recommended that the County and the city of Half Moon Bay contract with Pacifica Community Television to operate the Coastside’s Public Educational and Governmental (PEG) television station. The station is currently operated by Mid-Coast Television (MCTV), which bid on the contract along with Peninsula TV in Redwood City. The city and county will begin negotiations with PCT, which operates Channel 26 in Pacifica

According to the Request for Proposal, the contract is scheduled to be approved April 14 and the new contractor will take over PEG operations on the Coastside September 12.

The bid for the the PEG contract has been in the works since the city agreed to synchronize its contract with MCTV with the county’s contract. The county held a meeting and request for comments in June, and issued a Request for Proposal in December. The deadline for proposals was January 24.

Proposers may submit a comprehensive, written protest by February 28.

Would Pacifica Community Television videotape and broadcast public meetings such as HMB City Council, MWSD, CCWD, Harbor Commission, GSD, MCC and Cabrillo Unified School Board?  If so would the videos be published on the Pacifica Community Television website in a user friendly way?  Meeting videos on the MCTV website are very difficult to access and the embedded code is not available.

Would the embedded code be made available on the Pacifica Community Television website?  Online news publications and the public should be allowed to republish public meeting videos and make them available to a wider audience without paying a fee.  Would this level of service be included in the contract with the County?

Comment 2
Mon, February 21, 2011 1:11pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

We’ll know more once the proposals are released by the county at the end of the day on Tuesday.

We won’t know all the details until the contract is finalized.

Hello Barry,

Will the public have an opportunity to comment on the proposals and make suggestions to a draft of the contract?  Did the County have public meetings to get feedback from the community on what services should be included in the contract?

Comment 4
Mon, February 21, 2011 3:05pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

The county held a meeting last June, which is linked in the story.  However, they made no effort to contact members of the community who had a stake in the decision. Many were unable to attend, including me. I sent the following letter to Public Works in advance of the meeting:

The Request for Proposals was pretty thorough, but until we see the proposals, we won’t know which criteria the county considered most critical.

Note also that this is a recommendation and that the contract will still have to be negotiated.

Finally, local PEG will have to change regardless of how this process turns out. I don’t expect their funding from HMB will survive this year.  Also, Comcast has moved MCTV to channel 27 and taken away their offices.  I don’t expect video coverage of local meetings to go away, but I do expect the process to change significantly in the next couple of years because of changes in production and distribution technology.

Two years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that we’d lose our local PEG station, but this outcome was a result of mismanagement and bloody-mindedness by MCTV’s management.

PCTV has a reputation for openness, community participation, and encouragement of local producers. I think this is real opportunity to improve PEG service on the Coastside.

I’m glad to hear that you think PCTV would be an improvement.

>>However, they made no effort to contact members of the community who had a stake in the decision. Many were unable to attend, including me.<<

I wasn’t able to attend either due to a prior commitment—another coastside meeting that I was filming! I contacted them as soon as the date was announced and pointed out that they had scheduled it during both the regular Fire Board and the regular MCC meetings but they didn’t find that to be a problem.

Barry knows more about Pacifica TV than I do but they must surely be better than MCTV.  I look forward to learning more about their plans.


Comment 7
Wed, February 23, 2011 9:15pm
Joe Devlin
All my comments

I think we are going to have to see what is going to happen. 

Best as I can tell the proposal from PCT mentions taping the HMB City and the Midcoast councils. MCTV currently tapes these plus all three water board meetings, the school board meetings, and the sanitary district meetings. Other meetings get taped from time to time (I did the Cunya Site council for a year or two). One or two of these are taped by volunteers.  The rest are taped by the paid staff at MCTV.

I talked to Connie of MCTV today who has no idea what will be taped in the future.  The staff at MCTV is great—taping a huge amount of stuff for a very low salary. If we lose them we will be losing a great asset Call PCT and let Marty Anya at PCT know they folks are worth what they get paid.

After I talked to Connie I got on the phone and talked with Marty at PCT. I have worked with both TV stations and have a pretty good handle on the equipment both operations run.  There is a lot of incompatibilities in these two systems that are going take some finessing to work out. 

Marty understandably can’t commit to too much until he has a chance to review all the new technology, see the final budget, and work out a final plan with his board.  My worry is he can’t do much until after he has taken control in September.   

I think the success of the PCT on our coast will depend upon the participation of volunteers on this side of the slide.  Believe me as a board member of another coastside nonprofit (The Coastside Film Society) I have lots of first hard experience on just how hard it can be to get people to commit to help on a regular basis.  I think that Barry at Coastsider, Christine at HalfMoonBayPatch, and Jeri at CoastViews will all tell you the same. And you can’t expect Barry, Jeri or Christine to release their hard earned help so they can help to get the new TV station. 

If we don’t all step up and help insure a safe transition we just might end up with a community station with lots of content from Pacifica and very little for and from this side of the slide. 

I plan to work with PCT to try to keep this from happening.  If you care you might consider stepping up and doing the same.

Comment 8
Mon, February 28, 2011 7:04am
Barry Parr
All my comments

If this is going to be successful, PCT will have to include Coastsiders in its production and governance.  They already show a high degree of community involvement in governance and production, compared to what we are getting from MCTV today.

We’re in a transitional period for TV, and the only thing we really know is that PEG (which looks a lot like it did in the 80s) will transform itself in the next five to ten years. How much?  Remember, five years ago, Youtube and Facebook were niche sites.

Joe’s right that we need to help PCT launch their services on the Coastside. They’re going to have to double virtually every area of their operation, and more than double their meeting coverage. And they’ll have to do this with scant resources.

“PCTV has a reputation for openness, community participation, and encouragement of local producers.”

and don’t forget… they bring us

Bruce Latimer.

Would Pacifica Community Television videotape and broadcast Bruce down here?  If so would the videos be published on the jointc MCTV/Pacifica Community Television website in a user friendly way?  Bruce in general is difficult to access and embedded code is not widely available. Would the embedded “Bruce code” be made available to coastsiders? Online publications and the general public should be allowed to watch Bruce and make him available to a wider audience Bay Area without paying a fee. Right now you have to buy his DVDs to catch the Baby Gramps interviews. Would this level of service be included in the contract with the County?

And who can’t forget! Maybe Jeff’s Best can make a come back with our own coastisde version… like, say… “Barry’s Best”. I see a lot of similarities… ;-) I’m thinking we might have something. Sorry… many of you newcomers (the same who complain about growth on the coast, oddly enough) have no clue whom I’m talking about.

Regardless, until DIVCA is met/addressed and this becomes cross provider, this is about as relevant as a Charlie Sheen tweet in the grand scheme.

If a public tv channel falls off , and noone is around to watch it, do our taxes care?