AGENDA #2

 

MEMORANDUM

 

TO:                  Mayor and Town Council

 

FROM:            W. Calvin Horton, Town Manager

 

SUBJECT:      Public Forum to Consider a Potential Change in Cablevision Public Access Fees Paid by Cable Television Customers

 

DATE:             November 10, 2003

 

 

On October 27, the Town Council adopted a resolution that called for tonight’s public forum to receive comments on the potential adjustment of the public access fee charged to cable television customers.  The public access fee rate may be:

 

·        adjusted for inflation to 72 cents per month;

·        continued at the present rate of 71 cents per month;

·        reduced; or

·        eliminated.

 

Following tonight’s forum, the Manager will return to the Council with a follow-up report for consideration on November 24.

 

“Public access” refers to non-commercial programming produced or submitted by citizens to be carried on the cable system.

 

Notices of tonight’s forum were published in The Chapel Hill News on November 2, and broadcast on The Peoples Channel (Channel 8) (Attachment 1).

 

BACKGROUND

 

The cable television franchise approved by the Council and accepted by Time Warner Cable in July 1996 allows the Town to have cable customers billed for a public access fee.

 

The Town began charging a public access fee of 65 cents under a resolution adopted by the Council on November 11, 1996, and amended that amount to:

 

 

Public access fees collected by Time Warner Cable on behalf of the Town go to The Peoples Channel to provide public access television services. 

 

The purpose of the public access fee is to help cover wages, equipment, rent, and other costs for management and operation of public access cable television services.  The current 71-cent per month public access fee generated $110,341 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2003.

 

Each year, the Council decides whether to increase, maintain, or reduce the public access fee.  The franchise agreement allows the Town to reduce, eliminate, or increase the public access fee once per year.  The increase in a given year is limited to the annual inflation factor or 3%, whichever is less.  The inflation factor for this period was 1.5%.  A 1.5% change would result in an increase in the fee from 71 cents to 72 cents per customer per month, beginning in January 2004.  With this increase, we estimate that revenue would be approximately $112,000, or an additional $1,600.

 

NEXT STEPS

 

We recommend that the Council refer all comments from the forum to the Manager and Attorney.  We will present a final recommendation to the Council at the November 24 meeting.

 

ATTACHMENT

 

  1. Public Forum Notice (p. 3).

 


ATTACHMENT 1

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC FORUM BY THE CHAPEL HILL TOWN COUNCIL ON POTENTIAL ADJUSTMENT TO THE PUBLIC ACCESS CHARGE PAID BY CABLE TELEVISION CUSTOMERS

 

Monday, NOVEMBER 10, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.

Town Council Chambers, Town Hall

306 N. Columbia Street

Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516

 

All citizens are invited to attend and speak at a public forum at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, November 10, 2003, on the supplemental public access fee for cable television (now 71 cents per month).

 

Comments are also welcome by fax (919-969-2063) or by electronic mail (manager@townofchapelhill.org).

 

The cable television franchise, approved by the Council and accepted by Time Warner Cable in July 1996, allows the Town to have cable customers billed a public access fee.  The public access fee charges are collected by Time Warner Cable and then turned over to the Town.

 

For more information, please contact the Town Manager’s office at 919-968-2743 or via fax, email or mailing address as listed above.  See also the Town’s web site: www.townofchapelhill.org.