Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 2, 2010

Mayors keep control of TV30 community television system

Station's financing impaired by law limiting use of cable fees

by Jeb Bing

The mayors of the four cities served by TV30 community television have voted to keep themselves in place for at least another six months as the station's board of directors.

The mayors took over control of the station two years ago as TV30 faced a quarter-million-dollar budget deficit that had caused the cities to bail out the station two years in a row to meet its payroll and operating expenses.

Up to then, and since the station was founded in 1976 as an-all volunteer community station, CTV, as it was then called, was governed by a board of directors consisting of community volunteers appointed by the mayors.

Currently, the mayors who are on the board are Tim Sbranti of Dublin; Jennifer Hosterman of Pleasanton; Marshall Kamena of Livermore; and Abram Wilson of San Ramon.

At a meeting, they decided that due to the uncertain economic climate and a number of issues that still need to be resolved regarding the future of the station, they will retain their position as the board of directors for at least another six months or until the station's financial future can be determined.

One of the biggest problems facing the station is DIVCA, which was an act passed by Congress in 2006 that prevents cities from using their franchise fees for operational expenses of community television stations. Franchise revenue can only be used for capital expenses.

Sbranti said this will have a severe impact locally as the current agreement with Comcast expires next year. Comcast now contributes 50 cents of every subscriber's monthly bill to the station. The vast majority of the station's operating revenue comes from the franchise.

"We discussed ways to participate in lobbying efforts to overturn DIVCA (Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006), along with alternative revenue sources and ways to manage the operations both with and without constraints caused by DIVCA," Sbranti said after the meeting.

"Expanded programming, web streaming and enhancements, and the development of a capital plan were other points of discussion," he addeed.

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