Delano council meetings may soon be available online

Novmeber 26, 2007

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

If plans go accordingly, Delano will be the next city within a joint powers agreement to have its council meetings available for viewing online.

The council entered into a revised joint powers agreement for the Sherburne Wright Cable Commission at its meeting Tuesday night.

City Administrator Phil Kern, who also serves as the chairman of the Sherburne Wright Cable Commission, said the City of Buffalo started putting its council meetings online in October, and the quality of the broadcasts have been good.

Kern said the costs associated with putting the playback link online have been picked up by the cable commission.

“Folks who don’t have access to cable could have access to the meetings via the Internet,” Kern said.

Delano, along with Elk River, will be the next two cities to test this out. Kern said Delano’s meetings could be posted online as soon as December, and that the opportunity to search and watch by agenda item would be available.

As a part of the revised joint powers agreement, Kern said the City of Delano joined a group of cities in 1987 that formed the Sherburne Wright Cable Commission. The purpose of the commission was to jointly negotiate a franchise agreement with the incumbent cable provider in the communities, which happens to be the same in all the cities.

Kern said for the past 20 years, the commission has served this role, and now regulates Charter Communications.

In 2004, the city approved a new franchise with Charter Communications that governs its provision of cable television services in Delano through 2018.

Kern said, with the changing world of technology, the structure of the commission in the future may not be as effective as it has in the past. Other companies have been able to enter in the market area, and in Maple Lake and Big Lake, Charter Communications has a competitor in local phone companies that offer the service, as well.

Each community must franchise the new video providers on its own, but the requirement of the larger franchise with Charter sets the bar for minimum franchise agreements. Kern said any concessions that one city gives another provider automatically is applied to Charter, regardless of what the existing Charter franchise says.

He said what this means is it’s important each member city conforms to the Charter franchise when dealing with competitors. He said if member cities aren’t consistent in dealing with competitors, it will erode the value of the commission.