Publication Date: Friday, May 30, 2003
KMVT eyeing cuts
KMVT eyeing cuts
(May 30, 2003) With city budget slashing reduced from 40 percent to 10 percent, station still aims for self sufficiency
By Candice Shih
A proposal that would have cut Mountain View's community TV funding by 40 percent has now been scaled back to about 10 percent, but public access station KMVT remains concerned.
Last month, KMVT's leaders were informed that the city was planning to retain $280,000 of the franchise fees it normally bequeaths to the television station each year. That would have rendered the station essentially inoperable, said executive director Doug Broomfield.
Now, the city is supporting a plan that will keep most of the franchise fees for its own, economy-battered general fund, but hand over a $750,000 endowment to KMVT. With the money from the endowment, KMVT would be impacted by an $180,000 loss over three years, instead.
KMVT, which has recently taken out loans to finance its new, larger facility on Terra Bella Avenue, would, of course, rather keep that money.
"KMVT is sort of an oddity. It's not a completely outside group. It was created by the city," said Nancy Noe, a KMVT board member and former city council member. "The city put together a long-term funding mechanism."
But, with its own budget problems, the city now wants KMVT to be self-sufficient.
"What is the basic reason the lights are turned on in city hall? There's not an uncruel way to say this: public access is not one of them," said Council member Rosemary Stasek, who has taken classes at KMVT and volunteers as a crew member on one of its locally produced shows.
The Council Finance Committee, of which Stasek is a member, is recommending that the full council adopt the 10 percent cut to KMVT. The city council will conduct a budget hearing on June 3 and adopt a budget later in June.
"How you define what a core service is, is obviously subject to interpretation," said Broomfield. "It's obviously safety and people security, infrastructure, streets. All of those things are pretty basic to a city ... (but) what's a city if we just hang out in our houses?"
"I kind of think of KMVT as the town square," said supporter Sarah Doxiadis. "There needs to be a way for us to get to know each other."
The KMVT board of directors decided late on Tuesday that it would back the city's funding proposal. "We believe that that's a compromise that we can live with," said Broomfield.
However, the board will still need to decide how the 10 percent cuts will impact the station and its services and how to manage its significant endowment to make it last. The board will develop a strategy that will carry the station through the next three years and help it become more financially self-sufficient, added Broomfield.
Prior to the city's proposal, KMVT began making moves to becoming more independent by hiring a development director.
But in three years, all bets may be off. At that point, the city will likely only pay a flat rate for government access, specifically for KMVT to air council meetings on Channel 26, and the entire franchise fee payment system may be in flux. "It's another reason why the board thought we should be more self-funded," said Broomfield.
E-mail Candice Shih at email@example.com