Amherst Media also needs to find a new office building
For the first time in 40 years Amherst Media will have to formally bid for the right to provide community access television programming as well as covering the all important Amherst governmental meetings.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman informed the Select Board of new state regulations requiring a Request For Proposal be issued for the rights to do all things Amherst Media and other local cable access entities do.
The three year contract could be worth up to $300,000 per year in revenues from the recent deal struck with Comcast (5% of their TV revenues) as well as a piece of the $1.125 million in one time capital money Comcast agreed to pay in the most recently signed ten year renewal.
In the past the town simply "passed through" all of the money Comcast paid the town and the capital expenditures were done through the town so virtually all the equipment now used by Amherst Media is town owned.
Select Board Chair Alisa Brewer recused herself from any upcoming discussions regarding the RFP since her husband is currently (unpaid) President of the Amherst Media Board of Directors.
Steven Brewer testifies before Select Board on cable matters
SB member Connie Kruger liked the idea of the RFP because she thought it would give the town more say in how Amherst Media spends money.
The Town Manager also pointed out that the town itself could set up a system to broadcast all the public governmental meetings but Federal Law requires an independent entity oversee the (sometimes) offbeat original programming.
Either way, the process will not be the quick slam dunk it has been over the past 40 years and will probably not be completed until Spring.