Council talks itself out of money, exceeds BITV broadcasting contract

BITV seeks $7K more from city

When the City of Bainbridge Island agreed on a new contract with Bainbridge Island Television to provide tech services, broadcasting and programming content, they thought they had covered all its bases.

However, the City Council has already exceeded one part of its one-year-old contract with BITV and could end up paying up to $7,000 in contingency funds because of it.

BITV will start charging an hourly rate, per their contractual agreement with the city, since council meetings have exceeded the agreed-upon 750-hour annual limit.

"It doesn't surprise me... there are definitely folks who think it's very important that council meetings be aired. but we have an awful lot of meetings," said council member Kjell Stoknes. "Sometimes I think the meetings go longer because we are on TV and we feel the need to talk more because we know people are watching."

According to council chair Bill Knobloch, who was a proponent of the new BITV contract, the situation shows just how many hours the council has been working on budgetary matters this year.

“The issue speaks for itself... what it's saying is that council has been working overtime all year," Knobloch said. "I think the contract we have is a fair one and the support that council is showing to BITV is appropriate because it is a great information source to the community.”

As part of that contractual agreement, BITV gains 90 percent of the franchise fees and 100 percent of the capital fees the city acquires from Comcast Cable. The estimated total of those two tax revenues for 2008 is roughly $240,000, according to city Finance Director Elray Konkel. In return BITV provides an array of technical, production and broadcasting services for the community.

“It's pretty extensive the services we provide that are outlined in the contract," said BITV Director Scott Schmidt. "The city exceeded the hours per day limit on council meetings. We're not asking for the amount, it is just the nature of the contract's language.”

The council will have to vote to approve the $7,000 in potential contingency funding for BITV and any more overtime that BITV clocks filming council meetings will come from that contingency reserve. Schmidt estimates the city will have to pay between $3,500 and $7,000 to broadcast the remaining council meetings through the end of the year.

BITV runs two community Comcast Cable channels, BITV 12 and 22.

The local nonprofit airs council meetings on Comcast Cable 22.

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