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Santa Rosa council says media center too important to lose

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Finding that the voice that the Community Media Center of the North Bay gives to the public is too important to risk losing, the Santa Rosa council on Tuesday rejected a plan to cut off its funding.

Instead, the City Council wants its staff to bring back a recommendation in a month on how the media center and the public access it provides might survive.

But is was also clear that the council didn’t want the city of Santa Rosa, which provides more than 80 percent of the media center’s funding, to continue to shoulder the load alone.

“It concerns me that we are funding a countywide program,” said Councilman Ernesto Olivares. “If it is going to be a community access program it should be community funded and not by the city.”

Elaine B. Holtz, producer and host of television show Women's Spaces talks with Janeen Murray of Sonoma County Go Local Coop after the show at the Community Media Center of the North Bay, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.  (Crista Jeremiason / PD)

Elaine B. Holtz, producer and host of television show Women’s Spaces talks with Janeen Murray of Sonoma County Go Local Coop after the show at the Community Media Center of the North Bay, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / PD)

Staff members were recommending that the city discontinue funding the media center and bring in house the job of broadcasting City Council, Planning Commission and school board meetings.

Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips said government programming is the core and could be done for $250,000.

The city’s contract with the Community Media Center of the North Bay ends March 31. Last year, the media center received $300,000 from the city.

The media center put in a bid of $952,884 to continue the government programming, plus educational and public access programming.

The Santa Rosa Media Institute put in a bid of $791,440.

Santa Rosa’s support for the media center comes from the $1.6 million the city receives in franchise fees from Comcast, which goes into the city’s general fund.

The city also receives $300,000 from Comcast that is restricted to purchasing equipment for broadcasting.

Pulling the government broadcasting away from the media center was viewed by many as dooming the media center, which now provides that service, to failure.

The council heard 2½ hours of public sentiment toward preserving the media center, which is now in a rented space at Santa Rosa High School, because of the public and education programming that is also provides.

“It is a valuable platform for freedom of speech, there are no commercials, there is no manipulation of content,” said Jake Ward, a media center producer. “It is the only outlet where local voices are heard.”

Ward was one of three dozen speakers who all asked the council to keep the media center open.

“This community deserves an open forum for dialogue,” said Russ Bowden, the media center’s treasurer.

George Magnan, executive director of the Community Media Center, asked the city to extend the contract until June 30, when the fiscal year expires, to give them time to work with the city.

It was clear, however, that there was sentiment on the council to keep the media center open.

“Let’s come back with another recommendation and keep this community asset. Let’s bring back some other options,” said Councilman Gary Wysocky.

It was also clear that when the budget talks begin within the next few months, the media center will be vying with potholes to get scarce city funds.

“We are in a new economic world,” said Mayor Scott Bartley.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.





8 Responses to “Santa Rosa council says media center too important to lose”

  1. Steveguy says:

    I am all for keeping it open the way it is , but am concerned about the budget. Without seeing the costs and how monies are spent there is no way to judge the efficiency of their ‘job’.

    What is the pay for management ? What are the perks ? What ‘junkets’ do they go on ?

    Then there is the line ” The city also receives $300,000 from Comcast that is restricted to purchasing equipment for broadcasting. ”

    These ‘assigned funds’ are unnecessary and sometimes wasteful. They remind me of school funds- ” Oh, THAT money is only for improvements, not paper or pencils ” So they spend $5 million on a fooseball field and get rid of counselors and janitors, all because that was DIFFERENT money.

    While the media center is a great asset for the city, some shake-up seems inevitable and desirable. And this isn’t the only publicly funded program that should be looked into. Far too many of our ‘public servants’ see these type of operations as cash cows.

    Was that coherent bear ?

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. bear says:

    Since the media center broadcasts meetings of the City Councils, the BOS and other bodies that decide YOUR future, it is anti-democracy to defund or eliminate them.

    May I hear a coherent reply?

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  3. Snarky says:

    James Bennett:

    Once upon a time, the Press Democrat WAS the only news voice in Sonoma County.

    And look at how uninformed Sonoma County residents were just a few years back.

    Even today, the Press Democrat fails to even address basic important information. They rob their subscribers of the subscription fees.

    Case in point: WHY is it that the former “Police Chief” of the Santa Rosa Junior College allowed ONE cop to collect cash from various depositories around the campus?

    How is it that the former Chief was so incompetent that he violated the basic rules of accounting which prohibit allowing one person access to cash?

    And how is it that the current “police chief” was so incompetent that HE did not see the violation of basic accounting rules by allowing that one cop to continue collecting cash alone?

    And why is it that a little, tiny campus like the SRJC is entitled to its very own “police dept” and “police chief” when the entire Santa Rosa Police Dept is roughly 1 mile away at most?

    The corruption in Sonoma County has thrived because of a poor media presence.

    We are all very, very lucky that the internet and electronic media now exists. Sonoma County residents are no longer held hostage to a silly Press Democrat news staff that does little more than take handouts from the Santa Rosa Police and publish such lame “news” as which intersections the police plan to target next.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. The Hammer says:

    Take every fricken penny and fix the roads! Only a handful of people think we need a Media Center. Most never heard of it.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  5. Snarky says:

    Get your priorities straight.

    Pave the roads.

    The roads are used by millions each day. The “media center” is a benefit to only a handful of people.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5

  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Funny, I didn’t hear the city council say that displacing the elderly, disabled, students and commuters on the city buses was unacceptable. They just said it was unavoidable, so sorry. I say lay off those 5 managers who did a LOUSY JOB of planning and take the $500,000 used to pay them and apply it to transit.

    With the new “improved” schedules my bus has been late every day this week since the new schedule started. It is standing room only. Several people today missed their connections because my bus, which has NEVER BEEN LATE, was 10 minutes late this morning and has been late all week with a different driver every day. The junior high kids weren’t on the bus because, the bus being late and all, they now miss their connection. I don’t know how they’re getting to school. One man catching the Golden Gate Bus to SF said he’ll have to drive because he won’t be able to catch his connection. He hasn’t been on the bus all week. I wonder how many others will be driving because of infrequent runs and not being able to catch their connections. I’ve been told by riders and bus drivers that most of the changed routes have been running late ALL WEEK. The drivers are great and it isn’t their fault. Again, managers meddling and making something that works a mess.

    Buses have to be RELIABLE AND ACCESSIBLE. Who is going to ride the SMART train, or Sonoma County transit, or GGT, if the city buses don’t pick up in outlying areas? Or the buses run only every hour? Who wants to spend hours hanging around waiting for a bus because they run so infrequently? The buses run every hour on the weekends and it takes me ALL DAY to run a few errands. How much money is SRT losing because commuters are back in their cars?

    A city this size should have a great bus system.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  7. Fiscal Conservative says:

    If it helps expose the fools and there agendas…

    Youtube babling socialists

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  8. James Bennett says:

    Lots of folks actually showed up…how refreshing.
    We need diverse media and political representation.
    If Nestle and General Mills supplied all the food.
    If Chevy provided all the vehicles.
    If the PD was the only news voice, where would we be?

    The UN wants to be able to flip the switch on the internet.

    I think the Media Center is in their cross hairs.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10

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