It's a once-in-a-14-year opportunity for Carson City's two cable access channels to fall into a new set of management hands, but only two organizations had sent in letters of interest by Tuesday's evening deadline.
One of those is Sierra Nevada Community Access Television in Reno. The other is the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City.
The contract with the current management, Cable Access Television Foundation, ends Dec. 31 and will not be renewed, according to City Official Liz Teixeira. The city now pays CATF $110,000 a year to run both stations.
But the city wants better service. And CATF has had financial issues since the days a former director embezzled nearly half a million dollars over a four-year period that ended in 2003. CATF has also failed to meet total programming hours, including requisite programs for the hearing impaired, according to the city.
Carson City officials will now request formal proposals from the two nonprofits. But Teixeira said in order to have the time to review the proposals and make the best decision, a six-month temporary operating agreement with SNCAT will likely be made.
"We'd like to bring forward an interim agreement with SNCAT and at least keep the station on," she said. "The board (of supervisors) does not want at all the channels to go black if we can help it."
John Procaccini, executive director of BAC, said cable management could be conducted from their existing facilities, including two performance halls for productions. An interview lab would be added if BAC is offered the contract.
"We're very interested," Procaccini said. "The Brewery Arts Center wants to do this for a couple of reasons. We're a community organization. While SNCAT is a quality organization they certainly don't have any base in this community, but they certainly know what they're doing. But we're the trusted entity."
He said Carson City is in need of more digital, electronic and broadcast arts. And that BAC already has so much production under way with its theater productions.
"That's why we see ourselves as a good fit," he said.
Vivienne French, executive director of SNCAT, said her nonprofit can handle two more stations on top of the four it manages in Washoe County. SNCAT runs the City of Reno Channel 13, City of Sparks Channel 15, Public Access Channel 16 and Washoe County Channel 16.
"We like the regionalization (aspect of this opportunity), the fact that the two cities are only 30 miles apart," French said. "We think we have the experience with the four channels that we run up here to give Carson City superior service."
If offered the contract, SNCAT would establish a media center similar to the one operated in Reno. French said funding for such a center would be done contractually in conjunction with the city. Two full-time staff members would likely be hired.
"We're looking at a little bit of expansion up here anyway," she said. "This sorts of fits in with the plan as we go."
SNCAT has been operating in Washoe County since 1991. Its mission it to provide public education and government services programming. If SNCAT is offered the six-month contract at the December board of supervisor's meeting, the nonprofit would operate temporarily from the community center, French said.
"We will do a certain amount of programming there for them," she said. "A lot of stuff we can do over the World Wide Web. It will not be Truckee Meadows Community (broadcasting) in Carson City."
The length of the contract with the new management will be decided once a permanent nonprofit is chosen.
-- Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.