Santa Paula Times

City Council discusses objectives for new cable franchise agreement

March 31, 2000
Santa Paula City Council
The negotiations regarding the new cable carrier franchise for the city was discussed at the March 20th meeting of the City Council, including future televising of council meetings. Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa asked that the item be pulled from the consent calendar to address objectives sought by the city with Adelphia Communications Corp., which bought out TCI Communications.The city receives a hefty franchise fee from the cable carrier, 5 percent of the annual gross receipts, but objectives also include customer service/consumer protection standards, access equipment and facilities as well as access channels. The cities of Santa Paula and Fillmore are jointly negotiating the new contract agreement with the help of a consultant, noted the staff report by Brian Yanez, community services supervisor. Former Community Services Director John Keisler had been overseeing the process.Support for the videotaping/broadcasting of four local events per city annually were questioned by Espinosa, who asked “what are these events and who decides this?”Yanez said the annual Heritage Valley Festival among others would be suitable for such a designation. “These are things that will be negotiated in the next few months,” said Yanez. The consultant will oversee the negotiations, and “he knows what is legitimate and what is not.” The staff report was meant to make sure staff is on the right track with objectives, Yanez added.Espinosa said events broadcast could include community forums, election debates, and any new community events. “I would think we would want more than four events. . .and another issue raised numerous times is televising City Council meetings. The council has decided that would be a priority,” in franchise agreement negotiations.
City Manager Peter Cosentini noted that Yanez is “relatively new to this project. . .both he and [Community Services supervisor] Ed Mount have stepped up to the plate and taken more responsibility,” since Keisler’s departure. “It has been the historic direction to staff by the council to negotiate for televising City Council meetings, and we will strive to do that.”An objective of the negotiation is for the city to receive the funding equivalent of up to 3 percent of gross revenues for access equipment and facilities to be provided by the cable operator, including funding for capital and operating expenses. Also listed as an objective is initial capital grants of $100,000 per city for wiring of council chambers to cablecast meetings; Fillmore already broadcasts such meetings. Support for cable-related instruction in the schools is also listed as an objective, as is “EG Access support not separately itemized on subscriber bills.”Espinosa also asked that Spanish translation of cablecasts be explored.