Farmington, Hills, Novi Make Big Changes at SWOCC
Operations at the studio, which produces government programs and facilitates public access television, are being restructured to eliminate the executive director position.
Officials in the three cities participating in the Southwestern Oakland Cable Commission (SWOCC) will vote this month to make significant changes to the cable consortium—starting at the top.
SWOCC Studios produces government programs for the cities of Farmington, Farmington Hills and Novi and also provides facilities for public access cable users. Public access, education and government (PEG) channels are maintained as part of the communities' franchise agreement with Bright House Networks.
The SWOCC board voted last week to eliminate Executive Director Caren Collins' job and redistribute administrative duties among members of the SWOCC board, the three cities and an operations manager. The move will not be final until all three cities have approved amendments to the consortium's bylaws, Farmington City Manager Vince Pastue said.
He started the wheels moving with a statement read at the SWOCC board's Aug. 10 meeting:
"This past spring we adopted a budget that continues to draw from our cash reserves and does not contain a plan to replace aging capital equipment. If we continued down this path, we would be out of cash within a few years and our equipment would be older and more functionally obsolete with no resources available for replacement," Pastue said.
Pastue said efforts have been made to increase revenues at SWOCC's 10,000-square-foot video production facility. The studio has promoted commercial production services as well as rental of its two production studios and postproduction editing suites. Significant budget and staffing cuts have been made over the past few years.
"I think we have exhausted our operational efficiency efforts and do not feel confident in our ability to generate revenues from external
sources," he said.
Once the cities approve the bylaw amendments, the SWOCC board will have the ability to hire and/or contract services to run the organization, Pastue said.
What remains to be seen is how day-to-day operations will be managed. The studio has been open to public access users for taping and editing their productions.
Brian Golden, Public Access Promotion Committee chairman, said he doesn't know what's going to happen with the studio—but public access users will still be able to submit their videos for broadcast on the public access channel (Bright House channel 12). Committee members volunteer on each other's productions and assist with production classes that have been open to the public.
If the facility is no longer available for production, he said, the committee may have to find ways to offer the classes some other way.
"Public access is still available at SWOCC Studios, and as long as it is, I will continue to strive to educate people and teach them how to produce a television show," Golden said.
Farmington Hills City Council members are expected to take up the bylaw amendments on their Sept. 26 agenda. Farmington officials will likely address the issue in October.
For information about SWOCC Studios, visit swoccstudios.com.
Editor's Note: Brian Golden is married to Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch Editor Joni Hubred-Golden.
Clarification: The original description under the headline for this story has been changed to reflect that SWOCC produces government programs and facilitates public access programming.