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Pacifica Community Television and Mid-Coast Television "Continue the Boxing Match"

Television stations based in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay are competing to provide services to the coastside, and not without an occasional heated exchange.

The Midcoast Community Council indicated Wednesday night that it expects to make a recommendation to San Mateo County as to which with community access television at its next meeting on April 13.

Until then, Midcoast Community Council (MCC) Chair Len Erickson recommended that Pacifica Community Television (PCT) and Mid-Coast Television (MCTV) "continue the boxing match" over which organization will provide the service to Half Moon Bay, Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Princeton by the-Sea, Pescadero and La Honda.

It was clear at the meeting that MCTV, seemingly an underdog in the match, was not pulling any punches.

MCTV Executive Director Connie Malach demanded a response from PCT Executive Director Martin Anaya as to why the Pacifica-based station had not provided "on demand" video services, video hosted on the web which could be replayed at a later time, which MCTV had provided since 2008.

Erickson reminded Malach that the purpose of the meeting was to ask questions of Anaya, not make claims or accusations, and told her she was speaking out of turn.

The PCT executive director was forthcoming with a response to the comments, however.

"To be honest with you, Connie, the reason why we haven't done [on demand video] is because people haven't asked for it," said Anaya.

He then went on to say that most Pacifica residents, or viewers of PCT, who wish to see a segment that has already been aired usually ask for a taped copy, a request that PCT is equipped to comply with. 

"In the future, [PCT] will use service that MCTV is using now," said Anaya, nodding to the possibility of "on demand-type" services if there is a request for it among viewers.

This meeting in Moss Beach was intended to be a venue for Anaya to take questions about public access television services PCT could provide to Coastside communities if awarded a contract from San Mateo County.

The San Mateo County Public Works Department and Half Moon Bay City Council, two organizations in charge of making recommendations to San Mateo County as to which organization will provide community access television to the area, have already been won over by PCT ahead of the MCC’s decision.

it will make a recommendation to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, which has the final say as to what station will receive the contract to begin contract negotiations with PCT, and the public works department has indicated it favors PCT.

MCTV filed a protest with San Mateo County Public Works against the recommendation of PCT earlier this month.

The county department has since denied that protest.

There were no more than two-dozen attendees at the meeting Wednesday night held at Seton Medical Center Coastside facility.

Attendees seemed disconcerted as the committee made a number of statements of cautious optimism regarding PCT’s services.

"I have had issue with MCTV's lack of acceptance of locally produced content," said Midcoast Community Councilmember Neil Merrilees.

Merrilees said he was "excited" that PCT "produces local programs already."

Anaya is optimistic about the "inbuilt advantages" to PCT, including its ability to provide services to all of the Coastside including, by his own account, a studio, free airtime and free equipment checkout services.

There are those who are less than optimistic about PCT, however.

"I am afraid that if Pacifica does go through with this proposal that it will greatly diminish attention to the Coastside," said Beau Brown, a camera operator for MCTV. "Half Moon Bay and Pacifica are very different in interests."

What type of services does PCT actually plan to provide, who will do the legwork and how much will it cost? What is MCTV in protest of, how did San Mateo County respond, and what is the county's next move? Stay tuned for ongoing coverage of this issue.

Joe Devlin March 25, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Too much of the discussion of the debate about MCTV vs PCT seems to focus on technical issues. Lets accept as given that MCTV currently provides live meeting coverage and Video on Demand services that PCT does not. For its part PCT can brag of a much larger more active membership base, better membership training, and more user generated content. (Full disclosure I am a longstanding MCTV volunteer who has produced lots of content for MCTV. I have also taken training courses at PCT). I have no doubt that PCT can add the live steaming and VOD services to its mix if we demand that of them. In like manner MCTV can beef up its training and the amount of user generated content. Neither will happen if a good chunk of funding for PEG (cable access TV) dries up during this battle. My understanding is that the County has already announced that it currently favors the PCT bid, but PCT will not have a proposed contract in hand till April or May. My understanding that before this happens both the Half Moon Bay City Council and the County (as the legislative body covering El Granada, Montara, and Moss Beach) will have to OK the transfer of fees collected from Comcast to whichever PEG management wins the bid.
Joe Devlin March 25, 2011 at 04:17 AM
Seems to me making sure this funding survives intact should be our first concern. If you have the ear of any officials within these organizations please let them know that the capture and distribution of local content is important to you. The second big issue from my perspective is maintaining some control about content being produced and shown on the Coast. If PCT takes over we should ask that they keep the experienced camera staff already working for MTV. Shonna and Beau know the equipment, the setup, and the people who run all the political bodies that they film. Lose that expertise and it will a long time rebuilding it. Marty Anya of PCT said at the meeting that he was considering appointing two South of the Coastsiders to his board if the takeover happens so insure we have some say in how the transformation happens . That's great news. One of the Board members of the MCC recommended that one member be appointed by the MCC and another by the HMB City Council. That's fine if both those appointees have some media or television background. I would be very upset to see two political appointments who spend all their time jostling for power .
Brian Ginna March 25, 2011 at 03:07 PM
MCTV's video on demand services are absolutely horrible. If the videos are actually available.

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