Open Music Sessions: 7:30pm Friday, Nov 2nd at 700 Kalamath St.
Get more information about the upcoming RFP, and how you can get involved!
Dear DOM Community,
I am writing you today to let you know that the City of Denver has released a Request for Proposals that puts the future of Denver Open Media and Public Access TV at a critical turning point. If you want to be heard, let your local government know that you think this important decision needs community input. I am asking you to call or write to the Mayor’s office as well as your City Council members to express your concern about what is happening to Public Access and your Community Media Center.
If you don’t make your voice heard, Denver Open Media will cease to exist as we’ve known it by the end of 2018.
Our Mayor and City Council has a track record of being very responsive to the public, but they need to hear from you in order to represent your interests:
Below is some background on the current situation and a sample letter to help you formulate your own response:
Well over a decade ago, the City of Denver stopped allocating Cable Franchise Fees or other “General Fund” dollars to Public Access TV. Since Open Media Foundation (OMF) assumed operations of Public Access TV in 2006, we’ve designed a unique model that has enabled Public Access TV to thrive through the use of PEG fees. These Public, Education, and Government Access TV fees, which come from Comcast and Century Link, are restricted only for “Capital Expenses” such as equipment, software, and maintenance, while OMF covers operating costs like rent, staff, and utilities through fees, donations, and other earned income.
OMF has been working on a long-term plan to move Public Access into a new facility being built by Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS). With funds set aside in the Comcast franchise for a permanent Public Access facility, this new home could be nearly rent-free and (combined with other cost-savings through partnerships with Emily Griffith Technical College and other partners in the new facility) would enable OMF to sustain Public Access for many years to come in RMPBS’ new state-of-the art shared facility.
Denver Marketing and Media Services (DMMS, the department that oversees Public Access in Denver) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) that includes approximately $100,000 annually for staffing. The City is generous to offer this sum on top of PEG fees, but their RFP calls for all work of Public Access to be done by a single individual, meaning an enormous reduction in services. At Denver Open Media, over 4 staff members are dedicated to the Public Access operation (including trainings), with support from over a dozen other admin, fundraising, video and web professionals. Together, we leverage the facilities and equipment to serve hundreds of nonprofit and government clients each year, in addition to over 300 DOM members and hundreds of students each year.
The RFP also calls for Public Access to move to the City and County Building until a new facility is ready in 2-3 years. DMMS has sent OMF a letter outlining plans to remove all public access equipment from 700 Kalamath on Dec 19, 2018, the day after our current contract expires. I would like to apply for the RFP (either as an individual or together with OMF), but as its currently written, the RFP does not seem to allow organizations to apply (only individuals), nor does it allow proposals to house Public Access at DOM’s current facilities.
With the $100,000 DMMS is budgeting for salaries, OMF could easily maintain operations at the current facility, while partnering with the City, RMPBS, EGTC and other partners for a smooth transition into RMPBS’ new facility with little or no negative interruption on our members and clients. However, without community input, Denver will lose a vibrant community center that has been cultivated at 700 Kalamath for the past 12 years.
The plan set forth in the RFP was developed with no input from DOM, or the communities we serve. The community members who will be most impacted by this change were not given the chance to have input on the process. I am excited to continue to evolve and grow as the media landscape changes rapidly, but the communities we serve at DOM must have a seat at the table, which the RFP process does not provide.
The window of opportunity for this RFP is very short. We encourage our members, allies and clients to reach out to the Mayor’s office and City Council and let them know that you think the community should have a voice in this important decision for Denver. We have an opportunity to make something great together, and this rushed RFP process, developed without input from the constituents it will impact most, is not the right approach.
With respect and support,
Denver Open Media Station Director
Below is a sample letter with information you can use to write your own letter or talking points for a phone call. Please use as much of your own language and experiences to express your opinion. Bolded text should be personalized and please insert your own personal experience where applicable.
Dear Mayor Hancock,
As a constituent and local media producer, I want to express my concern about the changes that are about to happen to Public Access TV. The impact of these changes will be significant to me and several community members and we deserve a voice in the process.
I am a Denver resident and a member/supporter of Denver Open Media. Since 2006, Denver Open Media has provided youth, low-income community members, professional producers, and more low-cost media classes, equipment rentals, and access to broadcast their shows on TV and radio. This year alone, Denver Open Media has empowered more than 300 local producers and hundreds of youth to create and broadcast over 2000 shows on our local cable channels.
The community I’ve become part of at Denver Open Media cannot be replicated in the City and County building. I believe we need to keep community access television on neutral grounds, free from governmental and commercial interests so people from all walks of life, colors, creeds, and citizenships can exercise their first amendment rights, without fear. It is hard for me to understand how this new plan will serve the community if the people in that community were never consulted in its development.
I ask that you affirm your support to Denver’s community members, and to include the voices of Denver Open Media members and supporters during the RFP process.