Source: Sherman Publications

Cable proposal rubs councilman wrong way

by CJ Carnacchio

February 01, 2012

At least one member of the Oxford Village Council is not pleased with a proposal to change the voting composition and funding requirements associated with the Oxford Area Cable Communications Commission.

“I’m thinking that it’s nice to keep our options open as a municipality and not have other governmental entities dictate to us what we must do and what we may not do,” said Councilman Dave Bailey, who serves on the cable commission as one of the village’s two representatives.

Village officials were asked to consider a proposal to change the voting composition of the cable commission to consist of two representatives for Oxford Township and one representative each for Oxford Village, Addison Township and Leonard Village.

As part of that proposal, all four governments must agree to contribute at least 25 percent of the franchise fees they receive from local cable providers Charter Communications and AT&T.

The cable commission uses these funds to operate Oxford Community Television, the local public access station.

Bailey didn’t like the idea of a government being required to contribute a minimum amount in order to have a vote on the cable commission.

“I’ve always taken the position that if we wanted to contribute zero we would be well within our rights,” he said. “I’m slightly resentful (of) this proposal having a minimum of 25 percent of the franchise fees.”

It was not the percentage that bothered Bailey, it was the idea of the other governmental entities “trying to dictate to the village some limits on what we can provide to cable.”

Bailey was also not thrilled about the idea of the village losing one of its representatives under this proposal.

“I like to see local control and local control with one vote is less controlling than local control with two votes,” he said.

The cable commission currently has six voting members – two from Oxford Township, two from Oxford Village and one each from Addison and Leonard.

Oxford Schools and the Oxford Public Library have both voluntarily withdrawn from the board. Since then, the cable commission has amended its bylaws to eliminate the school district’s two seats and the library’s one seat.

Sue Bossardet, who serves on the cable commission as Oxford Village’s other representative, told council that the school district and library resigned because they “had some pressure put on them to get off the board because they were not contributing money to the cable commission.”

Bailey noted that “0.00 percent” of that pressure came from the village.

“We didn’t apply no pressure on nobody,” he said.

Bossardet and Bailey’s comments were directed at Oxford Township officials, some of whom did not believe the schools and library should have a vote on the cable commission without contributing some sort of funding.

Village President Tom Benner expressed his disappointment over the loss of the school district and library.

“Personally, I’d like to see the Oxford library stay on,” he said. “I think they’re an important part of this community and so is the school district for that matter. They both opted out on their own accord, but I would like to see at least the library stay on board.”

Bailey noted that participation in the cable commission should not just be about money.

“There are more things than dollars,” he said. “If it were just a matter of dollars, well, we could shut down the cameras, stop broadcasting and we’d be way ahead in terms of dollars . . . There’d be zero expenses. That’s not the way to think.”

Ultimately, the village council took no action on the proposal because only three of its five members were present. Officials opted to wait and make a decision with a full board.