MACTA Spring09- issue _4_

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					                                                                                                                 SPRING 2009

                                            A publication of the
                                            Minnesota Association of Community Telecommunications Administrators

                                             PRESIdENT’S REPoRT
                                             By Mark Moore, Cable Coordinator, Apple Valley,

                                             Farmington, and Rosemount Cable Commission

                                             2009 is already proving to be one of the most challenging
In This Issue ...                            years in a long time for each of us and our respective
                                             organizations. The current economic realities facing
                                             our members will have a ripple effect on MACTA, and
Above Board                            4
                                             its parent organization NATOA is already grappling with
Board of Directors                     10    similar circumstances. MACTA faces a host of challenges ahead, and we are
Franchise Fees – What Can                    moving quickly to address and resolve them. The fundamental goal that the Board
Cities Legally Collect                 6     of Directors has set is to improve and streamline what we do, how we do it, and
Legislative Committee Report           2     how we pay for it. The components of that goal are all interrelated and will need
                                             to be approached holistically, but they are not insurmountable.
Legislative Report                     2
NATOA Update                           7     We felt that the first step was to have clarity of purpose and vision, and the best
nuCAT – New Ulm Community                    way to accomplish that was to refocus and refine the Mission Statement. The
Access Television                      5     updated Mission Statement now says:
P.E.G. Committee Initiated             8
                                             “MACTA supports, promotes, and protects local interest in community
President's Report                     1
                                             access television (PEG), cable franchising, public right-of-way and cable/
Sound Bytes                            9     telecommunications public policy."

                                             A direct and clear Mission Statement should define the "what we do" part of the
    MACTA Office                             goal for the Board, and crystallize the tasks and direction for the future.
    1000 Westgate Dr. Ste 252
    St. Paul, MN 55114                       We also began creating a Member Satisfaction Survey that is scheduled for
                                             completion and approval at the March board meeting. It will help us understand
    651-290-6282             Phone           what the membership is thinking concerning what MACTA is, and isn’t, doing well,
    651-290-2266             Fax             what it should and shouldn’t be doing, provide additional suggestions and ideas,         E-mail          and help us with the “how we do it” component. The survey should be offered in          Website         late March or early April. In addition, we are already striving to provide improved
                                             communications, services, and value for the members. We are also working to
                                             get more usable information on our website (especially in the Members Only
                                             section), and have begun distributing the monthly NATOA Chapter President’s
    Save the Date!                           Report to the membership to keep you better informed on a regular basis about
                                             what MACTA is doing. Additionally, in the newsletter there is a new section called
    2009 Annual Conference                   “Above Board” summarizing the activities of the Board of Directors during the
                                             past quarter.
    October 22-23, 2009
                                             Finally, the “how we pay for it” bug-a-boo. The Board will look closely at the dues
    Wildwood Lodge                           structure, revenues, and expenditures to reflect the current financial situations
    Lake Elmo, MN 55042                      that we are all facing in order to retain current members, and hopefully attract
                                             new ones. Obviously, the possibility of reduced dues income would also mean
    Visit                    reducing operating expenditures in order to balance our budget. Subsequently,
    for upcoming details.                    the question becomes how does MACTA continue to provide services such as

                                                                                          President's Report continued on page 3
    2                                                                                               MACTA CONNECTIONS

lEGISlATIVE REPoRT                                                 lEGISlATIVE CoMMITTEE
by: Joe Bagnoli, McGrann Shea Anderson Carnival
Straughn & Lamb, Chartered                                         UPdATE
                                                                   by: Jodie Miller, Legislative Committee Co-Chair
In January, Governor Pawlenty released his budget which
demonstrated just how difficult it is to balance a budget          We had a very successful second annual Day at the Capitol
with a $4.8 billion deficit. Passage of the federal stimulus       on February 26, in spite of the biggest snowfall of the year
package will provide some relief to the state; however, it         coming that afternoon. Members met at the League of Min-
is becoming clearer that the revenue forecast will show a          nesota Cities building for a very informative workshop on
deficit that could top $7 billion. The strong likelihood of this   fundraising and revenue generation, presented by Dr. Reid
massive deficit is supported by the continuing job losses –        Zimmerman, Consultant, and Mike Wassenaar, Executive
over 600,000 in January alone. Even Twin City Federal, the         Director of St. Paul Neighborhood Network. Dr. Zimmer-
Minnesota banking icon, whose name will grace the new              man gave us plenty think about, including the importance
University of Minnesota golden Gopher football stadium,            of strategic planning, and the absolute necessity of evalu-
announced that they were moving their headquarters to              ation and measurement of an organization’s results. The
. . . South Dakota. The state budget troubles are in turn          consensus of the group was that we in the PEG business
causing many cities throughout the state to wrestle with           serve many different customers, and have many challenges
decreasing local government aid. Unfortunately, there is           in measuring our results. How many people are viewing our
little end in sight in the near term.                              programs? How important are these programs in providing
                                                                   people with information, entertainment, or both? How do
Broadband Mapping                                                  PEG facilities impact their communities? It was agreed that
The broadband mapping project being conducted by                   this topic should be continued at future workshops and/or
“Connected Nation” was presented to the Senate Energy and          our annual conference.
Utilities Committee and to the House Telecommunications
subcommittee. They were quite laudatory of the state               Mike Wassenaar gave a helpful case study on how SPNN
indicating that we are very connected and that the speeds          has increased its earned revenues, or non-cable-company-
they were able to achieve were higher than in any of the four      dependent funds, to 50% of its revenues. Mike emphasized
other states where they have done this type of mapping.            that PEG facilities need to tell our stories in terms of what we
Neither legislative body had any discussion regarding how          do for PEOPLE (not how many shows we produced or
the information obtained by this mapping would be used.            how many cameras we own). We are in the business
You can find the “Connected Minnesota” website at http://          of helping people use technology to communicate, and we Citizens were encouraged to visit            must make a case for how vital we are in our community in
this website to confirm the accuracy of service availability       order to attract funding and in-kind support. SPNN has built
maps for their community. Connected Minnesota stated               many of its services around working with the non-profits and
that they welcome feedback to improve their maps through           agencies in its community.
June, when the final report is due. Citizens are also urged
to use the speed test tool on the website from both home           Over lunch MACTA lobbyists Joe Bagnoli and Sarah Psick,
and office locations.                                              Legislative Committee co-chairs Mike Reardon and Jodie
                                                                   Miller, and LMC staff Ann Higgins updated the group on
Statewide Franchising                                              the three bills that we have been following closely, and
The University of Minnesota was expected to submit a               presented MACTA’s 2009 Legislative Principles and Day at
report on the experiences of other states that have enacted        the Capitol Talking Points. Both are available on the MACTA
statewide cable franchising legislation to the legislature         website at Mike Reardon reported that
in early February. The states in the study are Texas,              MACTA is monitoring the MN Ultra High Speed Broadband
Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia. The staff        Task Force closely. Its report is due to the legislature in
member responsible for this report had some extraordinary          November 2009. The Task Force has an excellent web
personal tragedies; thus the report will likely not be ready for   site where meeting agendas, minutes, and many additional
the legislature until early March. We anticipate this report       references and reports are available at http://www.ultra-
generating considerable discussion and most certainly    
some legislative hearings.
                                                                   After lunch, members tromped through heavy snow to
Conclusion                                                         the Capitol with several camera crews for meetings and
As always, we encourage you to reach out to your local             on-camera interviews with legislators. Green folders with
elected officials by inviting them to your studios to discuss      “leave-behind” materials were provided for the visits. Many
issues that they are facing at the capitol and to educate
them on the role of PEG in their community.                                    Legislative Committee Report continued on page 3
  SPRING 2009                                                    3

   Photo 1: Rep. Atkins and Mayor Park
   Photo 2: MACTA Lobbyists Sara Psick and Joe Bagnoli
   Photo 3: Sally Koenecke, Chris Vogt, Rep. Connie Doepke
   Photo 4: Mayor Tourville and Rep. Hansen

Legislative Committee Report continued from page 2

other MACTA members will be meeting with legislators
and televising town meetings events or legislative update
programs in the coming weeks. Members are welcome to
contact lobbyists Joe Bagnoli and Sarah Psick or me for
assistance or to accompany members to meetings. And we
encourage members to update us on your conversations
after you have met.

We hold legislative committee conference calls monthly
throughout the session and all MACTA agency members
are welcome to join the calls. It’s a quick and efficient way
to get up-to-the-minute reports on national FCC, Congress,
Courts, ACM and NATOA issues, state MACTA, ACM and
LMC updates, compare notes with other members regarding
cable operator or PEG operational issues, and help make
decisions or recommendations to the MACTA board on
legislative-related issues.

The next legislative conference calls are Thursday, March
12 and Thursday, April 9 at 1 p.m. Please contact MACTA’s
administrative staff Laurie Krueger at to
receive e-mail notifications of legislative committee meetings
and information. 

   President's Report continued from page 1

   services such as legislative and regulatory lobbying,
   keeping members informed about various issues,
   maintain a website, publish a newsletter, issue Action
   Alerts, answer the office telephone, keep files, prepare
   our tax returns, and yadda, yadda, yadda. I think you get
   the picture. The Board will address this soon in order to
   keep MACTA vital and productive in the future.

   In summation I return to the fundamental goal that
   the Board of Directors has set, and the point that the
   components of that goal are all interrelated. Having a
   clearer sense of what we do and how we do it, combined
   with member feedback, should help us create a better
   roadmap to how we pay for it all at a more affordable
   cost. As a Board we will serve the members as best
   we can, and as members we can strive to serve each
   other in the same way. 
      4                                                                                             MACTA CONNECTIONS

MACTA Board of Directors Update
A group of MACTA members has been meeting and cor-                 of broadband. Various experts in attendance questioned
responding with Katrina Kleinwachter, FCC DTV Outreach             the methodology and the coverage accuracy of the mapping
Coordinator for the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Mankato Mar-          done so far. Because the mapping was done during winter
kets, since December 2008. We have been sharing ideas for          they also pointed out the wireless results statewide would
improving and increasing public awareness about the DTV            likely change once there were leaves on the trees, probably
transition and learning what type and level of information and     with less coverage than currently shown. The presenters
materials could be utilized to help better inform residents,       acknowledged that they were throwing out all of the data
businesses, non-profit organizations, etc.                         collected so far because of limitations of the server used for
                                                                   the speed tests. They began stressing that the current maps
The Legislative Committee planned MACTA's 2nd Annual               were very preliminary, the revised mappings should be more
"Day at the Capitol," held on Thursday, February 26. This          accurate, and they would reflect all new speed test data as
event consisted of fundraising workshops for PEG staff in the      well as the concerns expressed during the presentation. The
morning, legislative training over lunch, and legislator meet-     broadband mapping project is scheduled for completion at
ings with on-camera interviews in the afternoon.                   the end of June 2009.

MACTA will hold its 26th Annual Conference on October 22 &         The Board reviewed, revised, and adopted its Legislative
23, 2009 at the Wildwood Lodge in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.            Principles for 2009. They will be distributed to the members
                                                                                                 Above Board continued on page 5
MACTA has created a one-page Question & Answer DTV
Transition Guide for use by City Hall receptionists starting on
Feb. 17. It has been shared with cities statewide throughout
membership and the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC), and
                                                                     2009 MACTA BoARd of dIRECToRS,
been offered as a template to 911 call centers and NATOA             offICERS, ANd CoMMITTEES
members as well.
The MACTA Board of Directors completed its Planning Retreat          Mark Moore - Apple Val-       legislative Committee
on January 23, 2009. Several primary issues were identified          ley, Farmington, & Rose-      Co-Chairs, Mike Reardon
to be addressed very quickly that are meant for long-term im-        mount Cable Commission        & Jodie Miller
pact with regard to the organization's relevance and finances.
Those issues are:                                                    Vice President                Communications
                                                                     Mike Reardon - City           Committee
u  revising the Mission Statement to something that is               of Saint Paul                 Chair, Chris Vogt
shorter and better encompasses who we are, what we do,
and why;                                                             Secretary-Treasurer           Conference Committee
                                                                     C. John Harrison - City       Chair, Heidi Arnson
u conducting a satisfaction survey to in order to provide better
                                                                     of Minneapolis
and more valuable services to the members; and                                                     Membership Committee
                                                                     director at large             Chair, Mark Moore
u  restructuring the dues, revenues, and expenditures for            Daniel Anderson - City
2010 and beyond.                                                     of New Ulm                    Ad Hoc Committees
At its February 18, 2009 meeting the Board adopted the new,          director at large             Co-Chairs, Daniel
revised Mission Statement. It now states “MACTA supports,            Laura Cook - City of          Anderson & Laura Cook
promotes, and protects local interest in community access            Red Wing
television (PEG), cable franchising, public right-of-way and                                       long Range Planning
cable/telecommunications public policy."                             director at large             Interim Chair, Mike
                                                                     John Peterson - City          Reardon
The Legislative Committee reported on several recent pre-            of Shakopee
sentations by Connected Nation subsidiary Connect MN
about the preliminary results of the Statewide Broadband             director at large
Mapping Study. Connect MN announced that Minnesota                   Chris Vogt - Lake
rates as the fastest state they have mapped so far (number            Minnetonka Communica-
5 of 5) and that both wired and wireless service covers virtu-       tions Commission
ally the entire state. They are using 768 KB as the definition
  SPRING 2009                                                                                                           5

Above Board continued from page 4

and posted on the website. We are also considering filing           at the next Board meeting on March 18, 2009.
Comments on the petition before the FCC concerning the
carriage of PEG channels referred to as cases CSR-8126,             The release of a study on the impacts of statewide franchis-
CSR-8127, CSR-8128, and MB Docket No. 09-13. These                  ing outside of Minnesota for the State Legislature in Rep.
cases have arisen due to AT&T's unequal treatment of mu-            Sheldon Johnson's Telecomm Division was delayed until the
nicipal PEG channels when compared to other basic service           end of February. 
tier channels. The FCC has essentially combined the 3 cases
for purposes of accepting Comments.                                 MACTA's association management has merged with another
                                                                    company and the contact information for them now is:
First drafts of the member satisfaction survey and the pro-         John Arlandson and Laurie Krueger, Ewald Consulting
posed dues rates were submitted during the Board meeting.           1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114
Due to time constraints it was decided that revisions would         Phone: 651.290.6282 Fax: 651.290.2266
be done via e-mail with final versions to be ready for adoption

by: Daniel T. Anderson, Community Cable Access Coordinator, City of New Ulm

The town of New Ulm recently implemented a new department
in their local City Government. It's called nuCAT. The City
Council decided that community access television needed a
vehicle for citizens to utilize the electronic medium of cable TV
to enhance the sharing of ideas and information to enrich our
town. That vehicle is a "state of the art" facility which nuCAT
has installed in the basement of the Public Library – complete
with portable camera checkout, Final Cut Studio edit suite,
and a tapeless TV studio. Over the last few months we have
had 36 people take the instructional classes on how to use the
equipment and make their own TV shows. During our "Open
House" we went "LIVE" from the new studio with a 13- and a
16-year-old running cameras.

Along with our "new" public access facility, nuCAT records all
board and commission meetings held in the council chambers
and replays them on the local channels. The City Council and
Public Utilities Commission meetings are "LIVE" cablecast
from the City Hall system every month. The third leg of duties
includes productions of current events in our community and
training seminars for city departments. One such event was
New Ulm day at the Mall Of America on Jan. 26, where the
premiere of the "New in Town" movie took place. nuCAT got
some great footage and interviews from the stars of the movie
which our community really enjoyed!

In 2009 we plan to add another Final Cut Studio edit suite
and another portable camera package for the public to use.
Also on our first quarter agenda, we will install an Apple
computer playback system and take over the cable access
channel programming from the cable companies. This is an
awesome system we learned about from our access friends
up at SCCTV in White Bear Lake. It's a revolutionary approach
to programming we discovered at the '08 MACTA Conference!
Being networked together with other access facilities is a great
benefit to our fledgling operation in New Ulm. It's great to have
such awesome resources at our fingertips. 
      6                                                                                                 MACTA CONNECTIONS

by: Brian T. Grogan, Esq., Moss & Barnett

                   A franchise fee is paid by a cable operator        reviewed franchise fee payments, the LFA has no way to be
                   to a local franchising authority (LFA) for the     certain that franchise fees are being paid on all gross revenues
                   privilege of using the public rights-of-way        required under the franchise. Under Minnesota law an LFA
                   and to compensate for the costs of regula-         can reach back up to seven (7) years to review past franchise
                   tion. It is the single most important element      fee payments, unless the local franchise limits that timeframe.
                   in any cable franchise and has resulted in         If underpayments are discovered, the franchise will often allow
                   numerous disputes between LFAs, cable              for the imposition of interest on past due amounts and may
                   operators and the FCC. Unlike PEG capital          even require reimbursement of the LFA's costs to conduct
                   fees which have a dedicated purpose under          the review/audit. While the LFA's internal financial manager
a local franchise, nothing under Minnesota law or Federal             can conduct a cursory review of franchise fee payments, an
law prohibits an LFA’s use of franchise fee revenue for any           independent review by an expert that regularly conducts such
purpose it desires. In fact, the Cable Act (47 U.S.C. § 542(i))       reviews often results in a more thorough analysis.
specifically prohibits the FCC from regulating the use of rev-
enue derived from franchise fees.                                     what do Cable operators often omit from franchise
                                                                      fee calculations?
This article will briefly review FCC and court decisions affect-      1. Franchise fee on franchise fee
ing LFA authority to collect franchise fees on a cable operator’s     Unless otherwise set forth in a local franchise, cable operators
gross revenues as well as provide examples of information             must include franchise fee revenue collected from subscribers
LFAs may request when reviewing the accuracy of franchise             as part of the operator's gross revenues. This “fee on fee”
fee payments. Given that certain cable operators are ex-              calculation was determined to be valid in a 1997 Fifth Circuit
periencing challenging financial circumstances, particularly          decision that invalidated a prior FCC Order. The Fifth Circuit
Charter Communications, franchise fee reviews/audits may              held that all money collected from subscribers, including funds
be a prudent step for LFAs to consider to verify compliance           used to pay franchise fees, must be included in a cable opera-
with local franchise obligations.                                     tor’s gross revenue. See Dallas v. FCC, 118 F.3d 393 (1997).
                                                                      This revenue source is often overlooked or ignored by some
what are Gross Revenues?                                              operators and could result in a 5% reduction in franchise fees
The Cable Act provides a definition of “franchise fee,” but           paid to an LFA. This may seem insignificant but it can add
does not provide an express definition for “gross revenues” on        up over time. If an LFA has 10,000 subscribers, the failure to
which the franchise fee is based. The term “gross revenues”           pay the “fee on fee” could mean a $100,000 underpayment
is defined in each LFA franchise and most of the disputes             over a 5 year period.
regarding franchise fees involve this definition. In particular,
whether an operator can properly exclude certain revenue              2. Non-subscriber revenue
from the imposition of a franchise fee. Most LFA franchises           In October 2001, the FCC issued an order (16 F.C.C. Rcd.
include a definition that, at a minimum, contains the following       18192 (Oct. 4, 2001)) involving the City of Pasadena, California
phrase: Gross Revenue means any and all revenue derived               (“Pasadena Order”) which permitted cable operators to pass
by Grantee from the operation of its Cable System within the          through franchise fees to subscribers on cable television bills
City to provide Cable Service.                                        based on gross revenues that encompass “non-subscriber”
                                                                      revenue. Specifically, this non-subscriber revenue included
What comes after this phrase in the local franchise typically         income generated by advertising sales and home shopping
serves to reduce the revenues on which the operator must              commissions. As a result of the Pasadena Order many cable
remit franchise fees. Because most operators have hundreds            operators around the country increased franchise fees on
if not thousands of local franchises to administer, it is difficult   subscribers’ bills by .25% or more. The Fifth Circuit upheld the
for the operator to calculate franchise fees differently for each     FCC decision. See Texas Coalition of Cities for Utility Issues
LFA. This generally means that one approach is used by                v. FCC, 324 F. 3d 802 (5th Cir. March 27, 2003). The practical
the operator for all LFAs and some LFAs are overpaid while            result for LFAs is that cable operators can pass through as a
others are underpaid. In truth, the individuals calculating the       separate line item on subscribers’ bills all franchise fees due
franchise fee checks for the operators often never review the         and owing the franchising authority – including non-subscriber
actual franchise language defining “gross revenues” before            revenue such as home shopping and advertising revenues.
a check is cut.                                                       The question is whether the operator is actually paying the
                                                                      LFA all the franchise fees due an owing for non-subscriber
why is it important for an lfA to verify franchise                    revenue as required under the franchise.
fee payments?
For an LFA with 10,000 cable subscribers, a 5% franchise
fee will yield over $400,000 per year. If an LFA has never                                        Franchise Fees continued on page 8
  SPRING 2009                                                                                                                 7

The News From Washington: Some Sun On The Horizon?
by: Coralie A. Wilson, Executive Director, North Suburban Communications Commission

Although the final results won’t be known for a while, we              parties who submitted the petitions are hoping for expeditious
are starting to hear some positive news out of Washington,             treatment at the Commission.
                                                                       In court action, the petition to the Supreme Court for a hear-
First, the Economic Recovery Act, better known as the                  ing on the Sixth Circuit’s decision on the FCC’s First Report
economic stimulus bill, includes over $7 million dollars for           and Order on Video franchising was submitted on February
broadband projects. In addition, the legislation, which has            10, 2009. Now we wait to hear whether the Court will take
been signed by President Obama, includes requirements                  the case.
that projects funded through the NTIA adhere to the FCC’s
open access and network neutrality principles at a minimum.            More information on all of these issues is available on the
The bill also directs the FCC to develop a comprehensive               NATOA website: NATOA’s Policy and Legal
national broadband policy. Although it is not yet clear how            Committee meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 1
the funding will be dispersed, the many local governments in           p.m.
Minnesota that are planning fiber projects are preparing to get
in line. (More details are available at          Another way to stay informed is to register for the monthly
policy-advocacy/documents/Senate%20Appropriations%20                   eNATOA sessions. The upcoming topics include:
Conference%20Summary.pdf )
                                                                       April 13 – Communications Policy Issues under the
Second, as a follow-up to the September hearing before a U.S.                     New Administration and Congress
House of Representatives Appropriations Sub-Committee,
the Alliance for Community Media and several other parties             May 11 – Why Your Community Needs a
filed a petition for a declaratory ruling at the FCC over AT&T’s                Telecommunications Policy Plan
treatment of PEG access channels on its U-Verse system.
In a separate petition, the City of Lansing, MI, and the City of       June 8 – PEG Funding Models
Dearborn, MI, asked the Commission to rule on Comcast’s
“channel slamming,” i.e., moving the PEG access channels               And finally, don’t forget the Spring Conference, May 18-19,
off the basic analog tier to a digital tier of service that requires   in Washington, D.C. Aside from the great sessions – which
the use of a digital converter box. The FCC combined the               include community broadband, government use of new media,
separate petitions into one docket (DA 09-203) and solicited           and a look at the future of communications in the new admin-
comments, which are due on March 9, 2009.                              istration – the conference will give you a terrific opportunity
                                                                       to meet with your members of Congress. Communications
These are both very significant issues, even for those com-            is clearly a hot topic with the Obama administration, and we
munities not served by AT&T or Comcast, because, if they               finally have some friendly faces on key committees, including
are successful in their treatment of PEG channels, you can be          Senator Amy Klobuchar on the Commerce Committee. Again,
assured that every other cable operator will do the same. The          check the NATOA website for more information. 

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      8                                                                                                MACTA CONNECTIONS

by: Sally Koenecke, PEG Committee Member

As stated on the MACTA website, MACTA works for our                 Two new board members, Daniel Anderson from New Ulm
constituencies in a number of ways including “promotes              and Laura Cook from Red Wing, are co-chairing the PEG
and supports government uses of cable television including          Committee. They are both very interested in promoting
community programming.” At the MACTA Board retreat in               the local programming efforts of our MACTA members. The
December it was discussed that traditionally MACTA’s focus          Committee will function similarly to the Legislative Commit-
has been centered more around our regulatory objectives             tee – inviting the membership to participate and provide input.
and not as much on community programming advocacy.                  The Committee has met twice to discuss the role of the com-
Serving as last year’s president, it was a goal to bring PEG        mittee and possible goals. The first initiative was to create a
more to the forefront of MACTA, and it was suggested at the         Community Media promotional box on the front page of the
retreat that MACTA create a PEG Committee. The purpose              MACTA website. MACTA members can submit videos and
would be to further the promotion and support of local (PEG)        articles to the box.
                                                                    The other two items appearing in the promotional box are
P.E.G. stands for Public, Educational and Governmental pro-         a description of what community media is and a “Featured
gramming. Our 112 MACTA members may have television                 Minnesota Community Television Facility.” The first “featured”
studios that facilitate all three of these, two of these or just    facility was St. Cloud. Currently, New Ulm (nuCAT) is fea-
one. Briefly, to distinguish the three, public programming          tured since they just completed a new community television
is typically produced by residents of communities who take          production facility and recently had their open house. The
television production workshops and produce programs of             PEG Committee will promote “Featured Facilities” quarterly.
their choice; educational programming may be produced               Another function of the Committee may be to educate and
by educational institutions (or for them) and governmental          advocate for the many aspects of PEG, such as the value of
programming is produced by governmental entities (often             localism, media democracy, media literacy and other related
cities). Generally paid production staff produce government         topics in the public interest. The Committee also discussed
programming. Productions could also be produced by a mix            submitting newsletter articles and offering suggestions for
of paid staff and volunteers. Whatever the mix of origination,      session topics for the programming track of MACTA’s yearly
MACTA supports community programming. This program-                 conference. In the future, the committee may also plan events
ming may air on community television channels and may be            to recognize producers and their programs. 
streamed on the Internet.

Franchise Fees continued from page 6
what should an lfA do to verify the accuracy of                     calculation of franchise fees, if any, related thereto during the
franchise fee payments?                                             desk review period.
A franchise fee payment audit or review should be regularly         u   Schedule(s) detailing bad debt expense and write-offs
conducted by an LFA to ensure that the cable operator’s past        related to franchise fees and subscriber revenue during the
performance under the existing franchise has been accurate          desk review period.
and to uncover any franchise fee underpayments that may             u   Schedule(s) detailing franchise fee remittances to the
have occurred in prior years. An audit or review is performed       municipality during the desk review period.
by analyzing information obtained from an LFA and its cable
operator. The following is an initial list of documents generally   The above list is an initial request for information with respect
requested of a cable operator which are necessary to conduct        to the franchise fee arrangement between the cable operator
a review of the cable operator’s financial records:                 and a community. Additional information is often requested
                                                                    from a cable operator upon review of the initial response.
u Detailed list of revenues, by month, collected from sub-
scribers during the desk review period.                             Conclusion
u Schedule(s) of the calculation of the subscriber franchise        During these stressful economic times it is often easy to delay
fees as used to determine the amounts remitted to the mu-           or avoid audits or reviews in an effort to save money for an
nicipality during the review period.                                LFA. However, this may in fact be the ideal time to review the
u Schedule(s) of the calculation of and documentation for           accuracy of franchise fee payments as it may well uncover
any non-subscriber franchise fees incurred during the desk          unpaid franchise fees due the City and thereby increase future
review period.                                                      payments. If your LFA is served by an operator that is reported
u Copies of financial statements or general ledger, preferably      to be experiencing difficulty meeting financial obligations, it
audited, for the desk review period.                                may be prudent to immediately review past franchise fee
u Schedule(s) showing detailed descriptions of Other Rev-           payments to ensure that the City receives all fees due and
enues on the general ledger or financial statements and the         owing under the franchise. 
  SPRING 2009                                                                                                              9

                SoUNd ByTES
                Compiled by: Chris Vogt, LMCC, MACTA Communications Committee Chair

                New farmington City Hall Updates
                 Though staff moved into the new Farm-
                 ington City Hall in September 2008, there
                 was a considerable amount of interior and
                 exterior work that had yet to be completed.
                 Unfortunately, the TV Control Room was
                 minimally operative due to various construc-
                 tion delays that hampered the ability of Al-
                 pha Video to finish the city meeting telecast
                 system. Alpha was able to have the system
                 fully up to speed by October, though some
other aspects of the Control Room construction continued
into early January 2009. However, Farmington now has
a wonderful new building featuring a beautiful and highly
functional Council Chambers with the ability to present audio
and visual materials in a wide variety of formats on a big
screen projector and large flat-panel monitors, and it sports
a new state-of-the-art public address and audio system. The
meeting telecast system now has five robotically controlled
cameras plus a document camera, and the cable staff gets
to work in a full sized 15’ by 20’ Control Room. Believe it      Crime Stoppers 10 Most wanted is Back
or not, the one in the old building was about 5’ by 7’ small.    The City of Minneapolis in coordination with Hennepin County
The new building will accommodate city and staff growth          has brought back to life Crime Stoppers 10 Most Wanted, now
projected to the year 2030 and should be in use for at least     called Hennepin County’s Most Wanted. Hennepin County
20 years beyond that. We have also been documenting the          produces the show with City of Minneapolis communications
building construction on video and have begun production         staff providing production resources. This show is distributed
of a documentary about the project.                              to Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Cottage Grove, Edina, Elk
                                                                 River, Richfield, and St. Louis Park through a DVD program
Submitted by: Mark Moore, Apple Valley, Farmington, and          sharing initiative. View it online here,
Rosemount Cable Commission                                       Qwikcast/router.aspx?WebcastID=1794 In another project,
                                                                 Minneapolis has been using social networking sites to pro-
CTV North Suburbs                                                mote our programs. We currently have 15 programs stored
                                                                 on Facebook and YouTube; they’ve all been getting a lot of
For 24 hours, programming from CTV’s Roseville studio
was LIVE for a special event titled PEG Mania. This tribute
to PEG (Public, Education and Government) programming
                                                                 Submitted by: C. John Harrison, Manager, Cable & Multi-
began at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 20 and ran through 7
                                                                 media Services, City of Minneapolis
p.m. on Saturday, February 21. Staff and volunteers served
as production crew, with some going the full 24 hours!
Volunteers and community members signed up for 30-minute         lMCC 25th Anniversary
time slots during which they provided programming about          Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission (LMCC)
various topics. The shows ranged from informative appear-        is celebrating 25 years of providing quality public, educational,
ances by groups such as The Wildcat Sanctuary and Second         and governmental programming to the Lake Minnetonka
Chance Animal Rescue to a Rock Band competition. Food            community. Throughout 2009, we will be producing a series
and beverages were provided by local businesses. PEG             of interviews with several of our past and present commis-
Mania was an excellent opportunity to showcase community         sioners, producers, and volunteers leading up to our “25th
television and have fun at the same time.                        Anniversary Celebration and Producer Recognition” on
                                                                 September 24.
Submitted by: Lori Pulkrabek 
                                                                 Submitted by: Chris Vogt, Productions Manager, LMCC
Minnesota Association of Community
Telecommunications Administrators
1000 Westgate Dr., Suite 252
St. Paul, MN 55114

SPRING | 2009

                                MACTA 2009 BoARd of dIRECToRS

  PReSIDeNT                               DIReCTOR AT LARge                      DIReCTOR AT LARge
  Mark Moore                              Daniel Anderson                        Chris Vogt
  Apple Valley, Farmington & Rosemount    City of New Ulm                        Lake Minnetonka Communications
  Cable Commission                        1005 North Valley St                   Commission
  7100 - 147th St West                    New Ulm, MN 56073                      PO Box 385 / 4071 Sunset Dr
  Apple Valley, MN 55124                  Phone: 507-359-8290                    Spring Park, MN 55384
  Phone: 952-953-2502                     E-mail: danieltanderson@               Phone: 952-471-7125
  E-mail:                 E-mail:

   VICe PReSIDeNT                         DIReCTOR AT LARge                      MACTA OFFICe MANAgeMeNT
   Mike Reardon                           Laura Cook                             John Arlandson and Laurie Krueger
   City of St. Paul                       City of Red Wing                       Ewald Consulting
   City Hall, Rm 68                       315 West 4th St.                       1000 Westgate Dr., Ste 252
   15 West Kellogg Blvd                   Red Wing, MN 55066                     St. Paul, MN 55114
   St. Paul, MN 55102                     Phone: 651-385-3647                    Phone: 651-290-6282
   Phone: 651-266-8875                    E-mail:   Fax: 651-290-2266
   E-mail:                                          E-mail:
                                          DIReCTOR AT LARge
   SeCReTARy-TReASUReR                    John Peterson
   C. John Harrison                       City of Shakopee                       The MACTA Connections is published quarterly
   City of Minneapolis                    129 Holmes St. South                   for the members of MACTA by the Minnesota
                                                                                 Association of Community Telecommunications
   350 South 5th St, 123 City Hall        Shakopee, MN 55379                     Administrators and Ewald Consulting, 1000 West-
   Minneapolis, MN 55415                  Phone: 952-233-9310                    gate Dr., Ste 252, St. Paul, MN 55114
   Phone: 612-673-2906                    E-mail:
                                                                                 Unless stated, comments in this publication do
   E-mail: cjohn.harrison@                                                       not necessarily reflect the endorsement or opinion
                                                   of MACTA or Ewald Consulting. The publisher is
                                                                                 not responsible for statements made by the au-
                                                                                 thors, contributors, or advertisers. The publisher
                                                                                 reserves the right to final approval of editorial and
                                                                                 advertising copy in this publication.

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