Cable Franchise Renewal Needs Assessment Recap

To prepare for negotiating a cable franchise renewal with Time Warner Cable (TWC), the city of Syracuse hired Sue Buske of The Buske Group, Inc. to perform a needs assessment for community broadband services. A large component of this was a series of six public workshops in which participants expressed their views,concerns, and desires regarding the cultural and economic development of Syracuse, and how public access to our local broadband infrastructure can strengthen the community.

The turnout at the workshops was moderate, ranging from 15 to 40 or so participants. A majority of participants were representatives of city, county, public school, college, hospital, and arts institutions. There was active participation in all of the workshops.

For the vast majority of participants, the subject of community access to Public, Educational, Government (PEG) TV channels, a public access studio, and equipment training support was unknown or barely known; its value to the community was not well-understood—an indication of the weak vitality of local public media.

The first half of the workshops focused on explaining the franchise renewal process; how the needs assessment may help in franchise negotiations; but also the very limited regulatory authority the city has in making demands of the cable operator— the city cannot regulated prices, service options, or infrastructure investment. In the second half of the workshops, participants were asked a series of questions to elicit ideas directly and indirectly related to the need and importance of access to community media.

A central concept I hope participants took home with them is the nature and importance of having a community media center. A large and full-featured center offering numerous services would inherently make it culturally prominent (integral to the community) such that its very existence would stimulate plentiful local television programming. I envision the new community media center would be operated by a dedicated non-profit entity, who's responsibility would be to manage PEG channels, facilities, equipment, training, payments from cable operator, grants, fees from rentals (commercial use), computer classes, etc.

If you have some ideas regarding the community media center creation and management please contact us via our conctact page.