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.

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, 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.

Joni Hubred-Golden September 26, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Karen, first of all, thanks for your comments. It's good to know there are people who are passionate supporters of SWOCC Studios. I chose the Emmy photo specifically to highlight the successes of the studio, which is - as Mr. Pastue described - being drastically affected by the financial cuts that are hitting all aspects of government today. Mr. Golden is familiar with more than public access, but I didn't feel he was the appropriate person to comment on those other aspects. I did contact Caren Collins to give her an opportunity to comment, and she referred me to Vince Pastue. I'm not sure what you mean by gossip - if you could clarify what aspects of the story you consider gossip, I would be happy to address that. The words "public access studio" in the article description under the headline refer to the fact that the public has access to the studio - but I can see where people might find that misleading if they don't read the whole story. I'll make the clarification. Thanks again for your input.
concerned citizen September 26, 2011 at 05:29 PM
concerned citizen September 26, 2011 at 05:31 PM
What a foolish move on the part of the cities. When you cut off the head, how can the body keep going? I doubt our city could function without its city manager, so why elimnate the one person at SWOCC who knows what's going on. This sounds to me like the cities are looking to get rid of open communication. Is the studio going to be for sale next?
Larry Patrick August 26, 2012 at 06:38 PM
When will WOW & Uverse have access to Farmington Hills? Competition is all but dead in this area. Larry Patrick, a concerned citizen
Joni Hubred-Golden August 27, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Larry, I'm not sure about WOW, but AT&T has been in the community with Uverse for about five years.


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