|The City of Minneapolis is currently studying the feasibility of transferring the stewardship of Public Access television from the current non-profit organization, MTN, to the city of Minneapolis Communications Department. This idea was presented by City Communications Director Gail Plewacki before the Ways and Means Committee on April 26th and was approved by the full City Council at the following City Council meeting.
We have included the transcript of Ms. Plewacki's presentation in this issue of the Monitor (see page 6). At this time MTN has more questions than answers about how a city-run Public Access Center would work. The MTN Staff and Board are assisting in the city's study in order to learn more about the plan.
A week before the study was announced, MTNís landlord returned a signed five-year lease for MTNís St. Anthony Main space. This culminates three years of work by the MTN Board in planning for and securing MTN's future space needs. MTN Board Members had kept the City Council informed about its work to renew its lease. The proposal by the cityís Communications Department would house MTN in City Hall and would thus negate MTN's need for a lease.
At the end of 2004, the City of Minneapolis franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable ends and a new contract must be drawn up. Typically, communities make important decisions regarding their Public, Education and Government (PEG) Access needs during cable contract negotiations. City Communications Director Gail Plewacki represents the City of Minneapolis and MTN for these contract negotiations.
A Needs Assessment study for PEG Access is nearing completion. This in-depth study by CGB Communications includes the future housing, equipment, and operating requirements for public access in Minneapolis. The assessment concludes that 10,000 square feet of space is required in order to continue the services that MTN is now providing. That is roughly what MTN now leases at Saint Anthony Main.
The good news is that City Communications Director and Franchise Officer Gail Plewacki has stated her commitment to keep public access at its current service level.
MTN is an alive and thriving center as our recent City Pages, "Best Television Station in the Twin Cities " award demonstrates. In these times of media conglomeration and embedded messages it is vital that public access, truly PUBLIC access, be maintained and strengthened. We owe this to future producers whose voices have yet to be heard.
In the coming months, we will keep you updated on all the developments involving the future of MTN.
- Pam Colby