Oxnard selects public access TV channel operator

By George Miller

PlazaParkPagoda

Plaza Park pagoda is OMAC’s emblem

and the winner is ……..

After six years without a public access TV channel and a time-consuming false start, Oxnard finally selected an operator. Members of the public were requesting action for years. After repeated requests, the topic was agendized, discussed and it was resolved to not renew the defaulted contract of the predecessor, create an RFP and decide on anew operator by September 12. Three bidders entered the fray. One dropped out along the way. The final contenders were Josephine Memorial Foundation and Oxnard Media Access Channel, Inc. (OMAC), the former a charitable foundation and the latter formed expressly for this mission.

 

OXCC10-14-14 015

Winning team- OMAC, L-R: Theadora Davitt-Cornyn, Peggy Rivera, Steve Nash, George Sorkin, Steve Salinas, Travis Kelly, Juan Delgado, Dan Pinedo (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 Watch City Council meeting video on this.

Read Staff report, RFP and OMAC proposal

An anonymous evaluation team, consisting of experienced people from cities with well-run public access channels evaluated the proposals received. They awarded 68 points out of a possible 100 to OMAC and 30 to the Josephine Foundation. After the presentation, public comments and discussion by the council, it became pretty clear to the Council that OMAC was the right decision, confirmed by a unanimous vote. Steve Nash made a case that the actual score should be higher, as they did not put some of their capabilities into the proposal, such as Internet and Facebook delivery capability, because the RFP didn’t ask for them.

The 89 page proposal, with additional attachments, was quite comprehensive, fairly responsive to the RFP and clearly stated what they would do and how they would be organized.  The rather ambitious staffing plan would need to be funded by an equally ambitious revenue plan. But, even if it only accomplished a fraction of that, it would be a boon for public communications in the city.

The channel would make special efforts to serve the Spanish language, youth and “minority” (Oxnard is 74% Latino per 2010 U.S. Census) communities as well.

Channels 25 (Time-Warner) and 38 (Verizon) would be utilized, along with a web and Facebook presence. Channel 10 (Time Warner) and Channel 35 (Verizon) are currently used for official Oxnard broadcasts.

The competing Josephine Foundation proposal, done by local activist and businesswoman Elizabeth Wolfel, was also included with the City report. It was considerably less comprehensive.

 

The team

The OMAC team consists almost completely of dedicated local civic activists involved in various commissions, charities, churches and political activities. Current members are: George Sorkin, President; Peggy Rivera, Vice-President; Steve Nash, Treasurer; Theadora Davitt-Cornyn, Secretary; April Jo Rogers-Stone; Steven L. Salinas, Consultant and Media Advisor; Sue Buske, Consultant and Media Advisor; and Members-at-Large Dan Pinedo, Travis Leon Kelly, and Robert  Dushane.

Some people told us that the political leaning of a preponderance of OMAC members would bias content, but the commitments made in the proposal, if followed and enforced by watchdogs, would eliminate that concern.

Although much work will be volunteer, there are also paid staff positions, including such positions as:

– Full time paid Executive Director/General Manger, Station Manager/Technician

– Part-time paid positions: Channel Manager, Business Manager, Director of Technical Services, Technician, Director of Marketing, Community Relations Manager, Outreach Coordinator, Training Coordinator, Administrative Assistant, Grant Writer/Consultant, Janitor.

The proposal also included collaborations and partnerships, articles of incorporation,  bylaws, a policies manual and more. The City and OMAC will now enter contract negotiations.

 

Financing

Time Warner cable franchise fees of 5%, plus an additional 1% for public access are collected from usage fees charged and placed into accounts for government use,. There is nearly $1.8 million in the PEG fund allocated  for public access. The City plans to use $1 million of this sum just for upgrading council, chambers electronic capabilities, along with new seating, decorating and regulatory compliance to current safety codes and Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, which was the subject of much public outrage at the 10-14-14 meeting.

Although the funding approved for OMAC/public access channel by the City from PEG (Public, Educational, and Governmental) Cable Television Channels  money is only to be used for equipment, OMAC has a plan to develop multiple revenue streams to support the organization and its operations, which would include grants, subscriptions, special events, sponsors and more. 

Projected budget is $309 thousand for year 1 and $379 thousand in year 2 of operation, less than half of which would be PEG funds.

 

 On-line sites

 http://www.OMACTV.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OMACTV

 

Previous articles:

Oxnard public access TV channel sought by group

citizensjournal.us/oxnard-public-access-tv-channel-sought-by-group/
 
http://www.wopular.com/public-access-tv-returning-oxnard

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