Let me introduce you to 1997. It promises to be a crazy one. The biggest change facing us is that MTN is going to lose an A-side channel. We will have to take the programming on three channels and fold it into two channels. There will probably be conflicts as three producers compete for two slots, but I'm confident that together we can work things out like the big happy family we are. Here are some strategies we are currently considering for shoehorning three channels into two:
1) Eliminate duplication: We have already had complaints to our board of directors that the present system which has allowed some producers two time slots while others have only one is unfair. Those with two time slots received them back when we had channel-time to spare; when we went to a single time slot scheme those who already had a second slot kept it under a grandfather clause. It has always been MTN's written policy that we would equalize the number of assigned slots as channel-time became tight, now may be the time.
2) Restrict archive replays: Some producers play the same set of tapes over and over and over again. The official rules are a little soft in this area, and we may tighten them up. For example, we might restrict programs that rely solely on archival material to skip seasons; or we could put a mandatory cooling off period between showings of any particular episode - a hard rule to enforce; or out and out ban such programs.
3) Shared slots: A few producers produce regularly, but infrequently. According to MTN's rules they should forfeit their time slots; however we've always done our best to work around production schedules that take a back seat to volunteer producers' family and professional lives. We may take those producers and share slots between them, one producer going on one week and the following week going to the next producer. One consequence of this would be seasons with an even number of weeks.
4) Out of state productions: One way to free up space would be to place all programs produced out of state on one of our remaining "B" channels. This would be easy to enforce, and would free up plenty of time; but personally I'm uncomfortable with the idea. I think speech content in public access programs is marginalized enough without placing it on out of the way "B" cable channels.
5) Block programming: Channel 58A/36B was devoted, by and large, to spiritual programming (although that has been changing). We have also had some nice two and three hour blocks developing on an ad hoc basis. These blocks have shown things like comedy programming, music or community events. It would be possible to block off some time and reserve it for a certain type of program. This would not free up any extra time, but it would help resolve disputes when two or more producers compete for the same slot.
In the coming months MTN will hold producer meetings to discuss these issues. Everyone with a stake in public access in the City of Lakes is welcome to attend and voice their concerns. If you are interested in attending, call Paul at MTN and get put on a list to receive notice of the meetings.
| The Jewish Family and Children Services organization|
selected MTN's production services, headed by Karen Haselmann, to
produce a 7 minute video highlighting their organization's services.
The video premiered last December at the Minneapolis Convention
Center and is being currently played on our channels.