President's Message | September 23, 2019

Organizational Change in Community Media

I’m passing on a couple of interesting stories about organizational change in community media – and wonder if similar stories lie ahead.

First up is a report from Colorado that the City of Longmont is contemplating an agreement with the Longmont Observer to run its access operations. The City Council will be voting on Tuesday to replace its agreement with the Cable Trust that has operated the local channel for 37 years. What’s particularly interesting is the Longmont Observer is part of the growing movement of non-profit community-based news organizations - and the first that I know of which would be operating a PEG channel in the US.

Just as importantly, Longmont has been the subject of debate in journalism circles because the library system there has been considering supporting publication of local news coverage and adoption of the information districts concept which would fund local journalism through a local option tax (Columbia Journalism Review recently covered the issue).

Collaborations between non-profit news organizations and community television channels exist across the country (the Boston area, Minneapolis-St Paul and Grand Rapids MI all come to mind, as does the work of MCM in Montgomery County MD).   It will be interesting to see if this move attracts other collaborations, partnerships, mergers or contract changes in the future if its approved.
Speaking of mergers, the other significant story I want to relay comes from Iowa City, where longtime access provider PATV has merged with a local arts partner PS1 because of a loss of franchise income when MediaCom walked away from its agreement with the City. 

The access organization lost both revenue AND distribution when MediaCom left. The solution? Find a way to make sure the assets and experience available to residents in Iowa City don’t disappear as well.
It may seem like a radical solution, but to my mind it’s better than walking away from your mission in its entirety. Changing environments demand different solutions. I’ll be watching Iowa City to see how things develop there.
I’m in Tampa FL this week to meet with NATOA attendees and present information about PEG operations and revenue models. Let me know if you’re here and say hello!

Mike Wassenaar
ACM President & CEO