By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa granted a third temporary contract extension to the Community Media Center of the North Bay on Tuesday to allow more time to resolve a difficult negotiation process.
The center operates the city TV public access channels and tapes City Council and school board meetings. It faces layoffs without more income, said Executive Director Dan Villalva.
The center claims the city owes it more than $500,000 and has repeatedly postponed contract negotiations to resolve this and other issues.
City Manager Kathy Millison said the extension will allow operating funds to continue flowing to the center, but that budget pressures are largely to blame for the impasse.
“There are a lot of changes going on with the city and the community media center right now,” Millison said.
Villalva said the center wants a five-year contract, but has been unable to agree on a funding stream that works for both sides. The center opened in 1997, has a budget of nearly $900,000 and employs 14 people, he said.
It broadcasts four channels and helps members of the community produce television programs and videos in its Mendocino Avenue studio. Its slogan is “Empowering community through access to media training, technology and production.”
There is debate about how some franchise fees paid by service providers like Comcast and AT&T can be used by the city and the center, Villalva said. “It’s a complex story,” he said.
Council members expressed support for the work of the group and the hope negotiations can be resolved soon.
“I think it’s really important for the council to be aware of how the negotiations are moving forward,” Susan Gorin said.