San Mateo County poised to begin winding down MCTV contract

[Note: This meeting has been postponed. See this article.]

County officials may vote to begin the process of ending MCTV’s contract at a meeting Wednesday.

Midcoast Community Television, MCTV, is the sole community access station serving the midcoast. MCTV has been heavily criticized in the past for its lackluster performance and its insular management. Last June the station was the subject of an investigation by the San Mateo Grand Jury which concluded that MCTV is operating at a substandard level across a range of criteria.

Last month, while local beaches were being closed after the earthquake in Chile and the resulting tsunami advisory, MCTV made no move to alert the public of a possible tsunami despite claims from MCTV that its services were, in part, justified by the important role it would play in public emergencies. Later a station spokesperson defended their inaction saying of the alert, “No one called us.”

Wednesday, at a subcommittee of the Board of Supervisiors, the county will consider three county staff recommendations:

• To notify MCTV that its contract will not be automatically extended (thus terminating the 1995 agreement which made MCTV the midcoast’s community access provider).

• To develop a short-term, one-year contract with MCTV for community access services.

• To start development of a request for proposal to solicit competitive bids for community access services.

The staff report notes that Comcast is upgrading its infrastructure on the coast which will allow our local television to be broadcast from anywhere in San Mateo County, thereby opening up competition to MCTV from Pen TV and other existing stations. Pescadero and La Honda already have these upgrades and have access to both MCTV and Pen TV.

Any subcommittee recommendation to end the MCTV contract will need to be approved by the full Board of Supervisors. The subcommittee members are Supervisors Rich Gordon and Mark Church.

In addition, Comcast will be closing its El Granada office, which housed MCTV offices and its studio space. These facilities were provided to MCTV at no charge by Comcast. MCTV is now looking for alternative space.

Click here for the agenda of the Board’s Finance and Operations Committee. The meeting, which also includes performance reports and county budget updates, starts at 1:30 and is scheduled to last one hour.

Comments are closed.