City backs plan to help Midpeninsula Media Center

The following story was printed in Tuesday’s (Jan. 29) Daily Post.

Daily Post Staff Writer

A proposal that should help fund the Midpeninsula Media Center with fees paid by cable TV subscribers got the blessing of Palo Alto City Council last night (Jan. 28).

The deal still needs to be negotiated in detail, but it calls for the mid-Peninsula’s joint powers authority for cable television, which includes Palo Alto, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and San Mateo County, to buy the Media Center’s 9,700-square-foot building at 900 San Antonio Road.

The JPA would then pay for the building with fees that the cities have been collecting from cable TV subscribers, about 88 cents a month.

The deal was described in-depth in the Jan. 25 edition of the Post.

The Media Center had been using those fees for its operating budget, but the Palo Alto city auditor discovered three years ago that federal law restricts the use of these fees except for capital purchases, such as buildings.

The city has seen a 9% drop in the fees since 2004 as residents switch from cable subscriptions to online streaming services. Midpen has an endowment of $5.6 million. Midpen offers training on TV production, broadcasts local government meetings for Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, operates five channels on the Comcast cable system and streams its shows over the web.