Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Minutes of October 15, 2009, meeting of Fayetteville Telecommunication Board

Telecommunication Board Meeting Minutes
October 15, 2009
Chairman Aubrey Shepherd called the meeting to order. Mr. Shepherd called the role and present were Mr. Cusanelli, Mr. Tenant, Mr. Hilton, Mr. Mayes, Mr. Russell and Mr. Bosseau.
Mr. Mayes moved for approval of the September board meeting minutes and Mr. Tenant seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.
Mr. Russell moved to adopt the agenda, Mr. Mayes seconded and the motion was approved.
Mr. Shepherd gave a report on his presentation of the Telecom Board letter to the City Council at the City Council Agenda Session. The letter concerned Cox Franchise negotiations and a request to ask for one additional channel from both AT&T and Cox Communications which would bring the city a total of four PEG channels. The additional channels would provide one each for Fayetteville Public Schools, the University of Arkansas, Community Access Television and the Fayetteville Government Channel. Ms. Lindsley Smith referenced a letter from Kit Williams concerning the history of Cox negotiations and Mr. Williams’s indication that a year to year contract was advisable. Ms. Smith also referred to Alderwoman Brenda Thiel’s concern about not losing the lower tier channels 16 and 18 through any negotiation process. Mr. Mayes made a motion to table the franchise negotiations discussion until a later meeting and move that the board issue a written request to Cox Communications for a fourth PEG channel to be used by the educational television. Mr. Bosseau(?) seconded and the motion passed.
There was no representative from UA Television present. Mr. Shepherd gave a brief report on his efforts to contact Mr. Foley and staff from UA Television and indicated that he was unsuccessful. Mr. Shepherd asked for staff comment about negotiations with UA TV. Ms. Smith indicated that there was not any further information on the UA TV contract with the city. Mr. Mayes gave a brief summary of what had been asked for during the September meeting concerning the UA TV contract. Mr. Marr spoke and indicated that the city had two meetings with Mr. Foley and that he believed that the U of A has had some dialogue with Cox Communications on their own. Mr. Marr stated the city was no closer to an agreement with the city’s E channel then the last time he had spoken to the board. Mr. Marr stated that the last agreement sent to the U of A by the city attorney is still awaiting feedback.
Ms. Cathy Foraker, the External Affairs Manager for AT&T in Northwest Arkansas, gave a report on U-Verse and their progress. Ms. Foraker provided brochures on the options available through the U-Verse product and stated that AT&T was very close to rolling out PEG service. She also indicated that AT&T had agreed to give Fayetteville Public Schools their own channel. She gave a brief report of the process that AT&T has been going through to have the PEG channels up and running. She indicated that site visits had taken place at all locations except the U of A where a meeting had been set up but the U of A was not able to keep the meeting. Mr. Mayes questioned whether the PEG channels would be offered on Direct TV service. Ms. Foraker stated that PEG channels are not offered on Direct TV and that nowhere in the nation are they available on Dish Network or Direct TV. Ms. Foraker provided information as to how the PEG channels would be found on U-Verse channel 99. Ms. Foraker stated that AT&T had made the commitment to leave the PEG channels on the lowest tier.
There was no representative from Cox Communications present.
Mr. Gisler gave his report and an overview of the 3rd quarter numbers which had been provided to the Telecom Board in their packet.
Ms. Blaylock gave the report and provided Cat’s performance survey to the board. Mr. Hilton asked about the performance measures (quarterly report). Ms. Blaylock stated they were sent out by email.
Mr. Mayes asked for a staff report on the WI-FI pilot project before new business was discussed. Mr. Marr responded that the city had worked with private businesses on the square. He stated that after a month to see what the usage would be that the private business owners made an offer to provide service for $3700 a month to provide WI-FI for the square. Mr. Marr stated that due to purchasing policies of the city that anything over $20,000 had to go through an RFP process and that this service would be beyond that threshold. Mr. Marr stated that the Mayor did not pursue that option. He stated that, during the negotiation, the city anticipated would come with the cable provider and AT&T that the city might entertain an option for WI-FI hot spots in the cable agreement. Mr. Marr stated the city planned to have dialogue with Cox and AT&T but that the city was not prepared to give any information on that dialogue at this time.
Ms. Lindsley Smith gave a brief update on the CAT Contract. Mr. Russell asked what the subcommittee’s recommendation was on the contract. Mr. Shepherd stated that it was the recommendation to bring the contract to the full board for a vote after discussion. Mr. Mayes asked for the members of the subcommittee to give their comments. Mr. Hilton stated that he had two recommendations. One is to clearly define what the service area is and to reinsert the definitions of what is a local producer and what is an import production. The second is to require new producers to be identified on the agreement that everyone has to sign and to indicate where people are from. Mr. Russell asked why the definitions were removed. Ms. Smith discussed the reasoning why the definitions were not left in the contract. Ms. Colleen Pancake spoke to the board and stated that CAT staff and the CAT board were comfortable with the current contract as written. Mr. Mayes made a motion that the board amend the contract to better state the service-area producers. Mr. Russell seconded the motion and the motion passed. Mr. Hilton also said that the playback request form new producers are required to sign to indemnify the city also require new producers to indicate where the producers live. Mr. Gisler responded that dictating what is on a form that a contractor develops is not necessarily appropriate for a service contract. Mr. Gisler stated this is a procedural issue that the contactor can decide within its own management. Mr. Gisler stated the contract specifies the information that is requested but not how the contractor collects the information. Mr. Hilton responded that the playback form is required by the city and that the city does specify what is to be on the form. Mr. Mayes stated the form has a section that is checked off indicating whether it is locally produced content and that he believed this is addressed in the contract. Ms. Blaylock stated there is a user agreement that asks for addresses and that the user agreement does verify the address. Mr. Mayes moved that the contract be forwarded to the city council as amended. Mr. Cusanelli seconded. The motion passed.
Mr. Shepherd spoke about special meetings which are allowed to be held by the rules of the Telecommunications Board.
Mr. Hilton suggested changes to the administrative rules Article 2 Section C that states “Special meetings or study sessions may be called for anytime and place on any subject germane to board duty and responsibilities on the request of any board member.” Mr. Hilton suggested changes that all meetings should be announced to all board members and be held according to FOIA laws and dates, times and venues shall reasonably accommodate all board members. Mr. Hilton stated the only thing he has left out is with a majority approval of the board. Mr. Hilton stated that he requests this change because of his experience with requesting a study session and he wanted to make the changes so that if 2 or more members wanted to get together as long as it is announced as an FOIA meeting that he did not see a problem. Mr. Tenant made a motion to table indefinitely, Mr. Cusanelli seconded the motion. The motion passed.
Mr. Gisler stated there had been positive feedback concerning the News You Can Use segment that is showing on the government channel.
Mr. Shepherd asked for any comments. Marshall Mitchell, Springdale resident and CAT producer, spoke about the limited viewing area and his wish that the area be expanded.
Mr. Hilton moved that the meeting be adjourned, Mr. Cusanelli seconded. The motion passed.

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