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Weekly News from the President: Visit to MSP

I was lucky to spend some time with ACM member organizations in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area last week. A lot of innovation is happening at the media centers there – but the biggest buzz may have been the advent of CenturyLink providing cable competition to Comcast.

The City of Minneapolis was the first of the communities there to sign competitive franchises with CenturyLink this last year, and most of our members are in locations where plans are in the works to roll out competitive video services in the coming months.

That will mean HD channels for PEG operations in the region, channel listings and placement of channels in proximity to broadcast channel – all things that should be standard for community television in the future.

Just as exciting were some of the programming and marketing innovations I saw. North West Community Television (www.nwct.org) in Brooklyn Park has a long history of investing cable franchise money into local daily news production – and they’ve build an audience for their content because commercial media systematically ignores the cities they serve. They are now leveraging app distribution on mobile devices to push that content out consistently to viewers in those nine cities, and are increasing viewership and relationships with constituents.

A slightly different strategy is taking form at QCTV in Champlin (http://www.qctv.org/). There, the organization has been focusing on partnerships between local government and communities to build relationships and meaning. It’s a smaller operation than NWCT, but again, in towns that are on the edge of the broadcast market, the name of the game is making sure the community knows the content you provide and depends upon it.

And I had the fortune to visit my colleagues and friends at SPNN in Saint Paul (http://spnn.org/), who are building a new facility in the heart of a creative enterprise zone situated on the new light rail corridor. They’ll be finishing buildout soon, and will be located right next to other artists, filmmakers and a brewery (ahem). They are concentrating on place-making as a strategy to help strengthen and expand their already strong partnerships in the non-profit and government sector. They’ll be open for business at their new location by Spring 2016.

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to visit (including those I haven’t mentioned here because of space!). I’ll be back soon, and I’d recommend ACM members check out the Twin Cities in the future!