Businesses, Nonprofit Leaders, Education Professionals and Citizens Encouraged to Participate
What’s your vision for local media in Missoula, now and for the next 10 to 15 years? Sign up for a focus group on April 3 or 4 to weigh in on the future of community media, public technology and cable television service.
As part of the upcoming cable franchise renewal process with Charter Communications, the City of Missoula and MCAT are hosting four focus groups during two days in April. They provide a chance for interested community members to learn about cable franchise renewal and to share opinions about future services that could be available to our community through a new franchise agreement with Charter. Area businesses, nonprofit leaders, education professionals, community groups and other interested citizens are encouraged to sign up to attend. To sign up for a particular focus group, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/Missoula-Focus-Groups.
“Given the enormous changes in technology and media over the past 15 years, the process of granting a new franchise to Charter deserves serious consideration and opportunity for public input,” said Ward 3 City Council member Heather Harp. “I encourage anyone who enjoys our local media programming to participate in the process.”
Background info on franchise renewal:
Federal law authorizes communities to license cable television providers and to collect a franchise fee from the provider as “rent” for the public infrastructure (streets, alleyways) it uses to deliver cable television to its subscribers. The City of Missoula collects about $800,000 annually in franchise revenue from Charter Communications, the bulk of which funds MCAT, Missoula Community Access Television – Missoula’s community media resource.
Once every 10 to15 years, local governments have the opportunity to examine the services provided by cable/video service providers and renegotiate franchise agreements. The cable franchise renewal process examines the past performance of Charter – as well as future services that citizens, schools, community groups, businesses and local government would like to include in a new cable franchise agreement.
“MCAT produces and broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of community programming annually on two cable channels,” said Joel Baird, MCAT general manager. “Our ability to provide Missoula with this local content, as well as all of our youth media education programs, is entirely dependent upon the franchise fees collected by the City.”
The focus groups will provide a chance for interested community members to learn about franchise renewal and provide their ideas regarding community access resources and services (MCAT) and future cable services that could be available through the Charter cable system that serves the City:
• Learn about the rights of the City and citizens during franchise renewal and opportunities for the future. • Hear more about community media and public, educational and government access channels and services (MCAT) in Missoula. • See examples of how schools, community organizations, local government and businesses throughout the country are using modern media technology to communicate, educate and distribute information in this digital age. • Provide your ideas through brainstorming and completing a questionnaire.
The focus groups will be conducted by The Buske Group, a consulting firm assisting the City and MCAT during the cable franchise renewal process. In addition to the focus groups, residents will be able to provide feedback through online surveys in the coming months. The results of each will be complied into a community needs assessment.
The focus groups are free of charge. Refreshments will be served, and participants will be eligible for door prizes. People interested in attending should select the one that is most appropriate or convenient and RSVP online: www.surveymonkey.com/r/Missoula-Focus-Groups.