Huntington Beach may take over public access channel and produce its own local content


Huntington Beach may cut the cord with a cable company to save money and produce local programming.

Assistant to the City Manager Antonia Graham and Community Relations Officer Julie Toledo presented a plan to exit the Public Cable Television Authority at Monday’s City Council meeting.

They outlined a $425,000 business plan for the first year of “Surf City 3.”

The City Council will vote on whether to leave the Public Cable Television Authority in January.

The proposal comes after Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta and Councilman Patrick Brenden directed staff earlier this year to explore what other cities were doing to keep their communities informed.

The Public Cable Television Authority provides local programming for Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Stanton and Westminster. Surf City funds 67% — $755,615 — of the group’s 2018-19 budget. The other three cities collectively contribute 33%, or $356,257.

The authority presents live City Council and Planning Commission meetings, as well as major events and other programs.

Programming runs from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. About half of the content is solely focused on Huntington Beach while the rest is on the other cities, according to Toledo.

“We think we could provide fresher, newer, relevant content that represents Huntington Beach,” Graham told the council.

City staff surveyed 30 Orange County cities and found that the majority contract out their cable channel operations to third-party production companies.

“They fund their programming ... at a significantly lower cost,” Graham said.

If the city exits the PCTA, Graham said the city manager’s office would oversee cable operations. The city’s Communications Committee would discuss and review programming.

Show ideas include featuring local music, council members, high school sports and Senior Center exercise classes.

Leaving PCTA would also create a path for new opportunities, such as partnerships with local school districts and generating revenue from sponsorships, Graham said.

Semeta said “fiscally responsible decision-making” tells her the council should be doing something different than what the PCTA currently offers. The cost-savings would be significant, she added.

“I like partnerships with school districts and showing more of performances, games — that’s really serving our community with our programming to feature what our students and community members are doing,” she said.

Councilwoman Kim Carr, who spent the last 25 years working in the television industry, voiced concerns about whether the proposed first-year budget would have enough money for content.

Graham said they were “pretty confident” based on quotes from some vendors.

Twitter: @vegapriscella