Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Email exchange involving government channel, public-access channel, education channel and the Fayetteville Telecom Board and city staff and city council

Mr. Bemis,
I have attached a copy of the form to which you refer. The original intent was for it to be used by Staff in helping people document their complaints. It has not been vetted by the Telecommunications Board, and probably should be before it is released to the public for use. You are, however, welcome to use it if you wish.
Regarding your request of me to reference "the portion of the Telecom Board Ordinance that provides the City such authority" I will present these facts for your consideration:
1. The Telecommunications Board ordinance was passed by the City Council. By doing so it did not delegate authority to the Telecommunications Board to create policy for, establish procedures for, or operate any of the access channels. The Board is tasked with ensuring contract compliance if the City enters into a contract with an outside entity (such as Fayetteville Public Schools) to operate one of the access channels. This has been well-discussed and supported by opinions of the City Attorney's office.
2. The access channels are afforded the City of Fayetteville on both Cox Communications' cable system and AT&T's Uverse system through agreements with the City. Nothing in those agreements delegates authority over the operation of any of the access channels to any entity other than the City. 
3. The City contracts with an outside entity to provide training, support, programming and outreach services for the Public Access channel. That relationship and the duties and authorities of that outside entity are defined in that contract. Nowhere in that contract does it state that the Public Access operator has the authority to determine operating policies or procedures for the Public Access channel. The City does not relinquish any of its authority or responsibility for the operation of the Public Access channel to the contracted Public Access operator or any other entity.
If you have any other questions I may assist you with, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Fritz Gisler, Manager
The Fayetteville Government Channel
The City of Fayetteville Television Center
101 W. Rock Street
Fayetteville, AR  72701
Voice: 479-444-3434
Fax:   479-444-3437
Mr Gisler --]
Thank you for your note below, which I will consider in submitting my complaints.  However,  again I must disagree with your interpretation of the City's authority to write Public Access Channel policy. I believe that we have differing views and definitions  of the terms "policy" and "procedure" to be written by the Board and City staff, which have  been included in my earlier complaints.  I would appreciate your reference  to the portion of the Telecom Board Ordinance that provides the City such authority.

I am attaching a scanned copy of a  "Formal Request " form that was included with earlier versions of the new Administrative Rule for Complaints and Feedback.  Please advise if this is the latest version that I should use for my submitting my revised concerns to the Board.

I will plan to pick up the DVD copy on Wednesday, about noon.

Thanks for your consideration,

Jim Bemis.

--- On Mon, 8/22/11, Frederick Gisler
Jim Bemis.

--- On Mon, 8/22/11, Frederick Gisler wrote:

From: Frederick Gisler
Subject: Re: Recent versions of the Telecommunications Board Administrative Rules
To: "Jim Bemis"
Cc: "Anne Shelley" , "Aubrey Shepherd" , "Blake Pennington" , "Don Marr" , "Joel Walsh" , "Lindsley Smith" , "Michael Spencer" , "Mike Ehrig" , "Russ Davis" , "Stephen Smith"
Date: Monday, August 22, 2011, 9:36 AM

Hello Mr. Bemis:
Attached is the latest revision of the Telecommunications Board's Administrative Rules, which include the new complaint/feedback procedure. Also attached are the operating policies for Fayetteville Public Access Television, which describe the procedure to be followed to submit complaints regarding programming or operations of that service. Please keep in mind that these policies are not determined by the Public Access operator, but are merely implemented by them. While the contracted provider of Public Access services is a valuable consultant regarding these policies and procedures, the operation of the Public Access channel is the responsibility of the City. The operating policies are determined by the City Administration.
Also attached is a copy of the Fayetteville Government Channel Operating Policies, which describe the procedure to be followed to request a review regarding the denial  by the Channel Manager of a program request. All other complaints regarding the operation of the Government Channel are handled as are complaints regarding any other City Division, specifically they may be presented to the Division Head, Department Head, the Chief of Staff or the Mayor.
In addition is attached the agreement the City has with Fayetteville Public Schools to operate the Education Channel. Any complaints regarding the Education Channel would appropriately be first communicated to Fayetteville Public Schools Administration, and subsequently to City Staff if necessary.
Since the Telecommunications Board is charged with facilitating the resolution of disputes regarding the operations of the access channels, we present the information of all complaints, resolved or not, to them each month at their meetings. Many times the complaints have already been satisfactorily resolved and require no further action by the Board.
For your complaints to be placed on the agenda for the September meeting of the Telecommunications Board, you will need to present them to me in writing no later than August 31, which is 15 days before the meeting of the Board. Please state each complaint separately in the most direct and specific language as possible. You should strive to avoid several complaints in one statement, but rather each complaint should be focused on one specific subject. This will greatly assist me in any investigation or research I may need to do. If you provide me with such complaints by August 31 they will be placed on the Board's meeting agenda for September as individual items of new business. If you do not submit them by August 31, you can request that a member of the Board place them on the agenda when they consider the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. Please note, however, that the complaint then will not be actually considered at that meeting, but will be placed on the next meeting's agenda for consideration.
As for any complaint procedures that may have been in place prior to the procedures documented in the items I have sent , I do not have any knowledge. You may be able to obtain documentation of previous complaint procedures followed by the Public Access operator prior to January 1, 2011 by contacting the current operator, Your Media, at 479-444-3433. Please remember, however, any procedures that were followed prior to the date of adoption of the items I have sent you would be of historical interest only, and are no longer valid.
Regarding any complaint/feedback procedures or polices for any of the City's other electronic media, I advise you to contact Lindsley Smith, Director of Communication.
I will have a DVD copy of the meeting made for you. We telecast the meetings of the Telecommunications Board on The Fayetteville Government Channel every Friday at 4:00p and 4:00a. The most current schedule of the Channel can be viewed by going to http://www.accessfayetteville.org/government/city_tv/index.cfm and clicking on the "Current Program Schedule" link. You will notice the Board meeting is on the schedule on Friday, August 19. It will be telecast again on Friday, August 26 at 4:00p and 4:00a. It also should be available on our Video on Demand (VOD) service later today. We usually have it available the day after the meeting but we experienced a technical glitch and were not able to upload it Friday. I apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused.
If you have any other questions I may assist you with, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thank you,
Fritz Gisler, Manager
The Fayetteville Government Channel
The City of Fayetteville Television Center
101 W. Rock Street
Fayetteville, AR  72701
Voice: 479-444-3434
Fax:   479-444-3437
TDD:     479-521-1316

>>> Jim Bemis 8/21/2011 3:48 PM >>>

Mr. Gisler and Telecommunications Board:
As a response to  the Board's request,  I am preparing more  succinct versions of my earlier requests and complaints that were submitted to the Telecommunications Board in 2010. Thus I plan to submit  revised versions  to be placed on the Board's Agenda for the September meeting. I understand that these revisions will be considered as a "trial or test"  of  the City staff's suggested version (July 2011) of the  "complaint and feedback" process, which has been  accepted by the Board for inclusion in the Board"s Administrative Rules.    I am assuming that the  Board will consider my revised versions as an agenda item for the September meeting.

In my preparations to follow the newly accepted rules,I  find that I have only a 2009 version of the Board's Administrative Rules. (See attached). I do not know if this is the current version now  being used, thus would like to confirm that it is the most recent.

Thus I am asking that your office please advise me as to where earlier or more recent electronic versions of their Rules might be obtained? I understand that the Board has not had such guidelines in the past.  Similarly, I would like to obtain electronic copies of current and previous PEG-channel policies for comments and appeals that are now being used by  all three Channels. And, if there are any complaint/feedback policies or procedures used by the City's other electronic media, please advise as to where they may be obtained.  

In addition, I would like to obtain a DVD copy of the August Board meeting, as I do not find the video on AccessFayetteville or scheduled on the current weekly FGC schedule. If possible, I would like to obtain a copy on Wednesday, August 24. I will contact you by phone to see if I can pick up the DVD  on that date.

Thank you for your consideration

Jim Bemis


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