City Issues a Request for Proposals for a Third Party Operator (TPO) to Manage a Public Access/Leased Access (PALA) Television Station

Posted on  06/28/2013 2:28 pm

The City of Wilmington today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking individuals or entities that are interested in operating and managing a Public Access and Leased Access (PALA) television station serving the Wilmington community. The PALA television station will begin operations on April 1 of 2014. Programming will be cablecast through the Comcast cable system using the Public Television Channel that is available to the City through the Federal Communications Commission as well as the City’s new 12-year franchise agreement with Comcast.

A copy of the RFP is available on the City of Wilmington’s website at www.WilmingtonDE.gov/government/pala as is the City’s franchise agreement with Comcast.

Responses to the RFP must be received by the City by 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 15. The City’s Cable, Video and Telecommunications Commission, which is comprised of representatives from the Williams Administration and City Council, will review documentation submitted by applicants and have an opportunity to question applicants during a series of public meetings in September and October.

The current timeline for the selection of a Third Party Operator calls for the City Cable Commission to recommend the PALA TPO by October 31 and then send the recommendation to City Council for final approval in December. Council will also be approving contracts negotiated between the TPO and the City as well as a contract negotiated by the TPO with Comcast to operate the station. The TPO will then have a three month period beginning in January of 2014 to prepare for formal management of the public access and leased access channel starting on April 1, 2014.

According to the RFP issued today, the City and Comcast are contracting for a manager (TPO) to operate a self-sustaining public access/leased access (PALA) cable channel and studio facility that delivers community news and information to the community of Wilmington and provides access services to the greater Wilmington area. The TPO will sign a contract with Comcast to provide local leased access and live local leased access, and sign a separate contract with the City to provide for public access television services and channel time.

Public access services include providing training and technical support to primarily residents, but also others, to create media on topics of the producer’s own choosing that will appear on the first-come first-served nondiscriminatory public access channel that is shared with leased access and other outlets.

Local leased access services include selling time on the leased access channel that is shared with public access and providing production services to area individuals, businesses, and organizations.

Local and live leased access entails selling channel time and/or technical support for regular live programming on the channel.

With oversight provided by the City primarily through the Cable, Video, and Telecommunications Commission (CVT Commission) and the Public/Leased Access Citizens Advisory Board (PLACAB) (a panel to be named in the near future), and Comcast, the TPO will assume the management of relevant assets owned by the City and Comcast, provide access services to the community, and earn an operating income for itself under terms acceptable to the City and Comcast.