WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Nov. 13, 2008) — Two of the three members of the Waynesville Communication Committee didn’t show up for Thursday afternoon’s meeting, but Councilwoman Diana Stanford and City Administrator Bruce Harrill agreed to forward a two-page written agreement governing the cable public access Channel 12 content to next Thursday’s city council meeting for approval.
Cable America, the franchised cable television provider for Waynesville and St. Robert, provides a public access cable television channel to the city of Waynesville which for many years has delegated responsibility for the channel to the Waynesville R-VI School District. The school has a broadcast journalism curriculum and students produce their own local content, as well as helping to provide live or taped broadcasts of city council meetings, school board meetings and athletic events.
That relationship has become controversial in recent years when, during a routine review of the cable franchise agreement, some Waynesville City Council members realized that they rather than the school district were supposed to be in charge of Channel 12.
After an extended process, city and school officials worked out a series of programming and submission guidelines to govern content of Channel 12.
Harrill said he liked the agreement.
“I feel we worked out a good agreement with the school district and we plan to present it at the next meeting,” Harrill said. “I think our previous agreement has expired and this agreement does go into more detail. It includes a section on the programming and submission guidelines for Channel 12, which is something the school wanted and something we considered important as well.”
The new guideline have an eight-tier priority list for content.
The highest priority is emergency information involving public safety or health, followed by notices of school closures or schedule changes, and notices issued by the school district or city governments.
The next priority is broadcasts of public meetings of the Waynesville R-VI School Board, followed by broadcasts of Waynesville and St. Robert city council meetings.
Final priorities are broadcasts of Waynesville school events such as sporting events and concerts, programming created by school students and staff, and notices of meetings and non-profit events submitted by local organizations, including those on Fort Leonard Wood.
Meetings sometimes conflict between the city councils and the school district. The Waynesville R-VI School District holds its regular board meetings on the third Monday of the month, which conflicts with one of the two monthly scheduled meetings of the St. Robert City Council.
School board meetings are also sometimes held on the third Thursday of the month, which would conflict with the Waynesville City Council, but a check of meeting dates approved for the 2008-09 school year shows that won’t happen for the rest of the school year.
“Very seldom do we have a conflict; they did tell us they would make an effort to tape our meetings,” Harrill said, “It is their equipment, so we understand their priority.”
When original programming isn’t being broadcast, Channel 12 content routinely consists of a live audio feed from KFBD Radio and revolving screens of announcements from nonprofit organizations. The new written guidelines specify that the content needs to originate from a nonprofit organization within the local area, including churches, or nonprofit organizations with a substantial connection to the area such as the Red Cross.
The agreement lists nine categories of prohibited material. Those categories are promotions of commercial products or services or profit-making enterprises; political advertising supporting or opposing candidates for public office; promotion of lotteries or gambling enterprises that violate laws; obscene material; material that is illegal because it would be libelous, slanderous, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, unfairly compete, violate trademarks or copyrights, or otherwise violate laws; material that “has a reasonable probability of creating an immediate danger of damage to property or injury to persons,” material that “promotes a particular religion,” except that “a notice of an upcoming church-related event may be aired so long as the notice is limited to basic event details and does not act to promote a particular religion or religious doctrine,” or items that are otherwise considered unsuitable by the program director or program board.