The Casper City Council agreed Tuesday to receive applications from people and companies interested in operating the city's cable television channel.

Last fall, the council discussed the interest in a local television station, and asked city staff to prepare a request for proposal for individuals and/or organizations to operate Channel 192.

At the council's work session shown on the city's YouTube channel on Tuesday, City Manager Carter Napier said the city must be careful about the contract and the operator because the city receives a franchise fee from Spectrum and doesn't want to lose it.

The operator would need to follow the Public Broadcasting Service model of having sponsors, but not advertisers.

Channel 192 would not be a true public access channel, but rather one that stays within the framework of an "Education Government" model, Napier said.

Napier emphasized that the city will not incur any costs if it chooses to have an operator run Channel 192.

City Clerk Fleur Tremel told the council the city would begin taking applications on Friday with a deadline in early April, then council would review the proposals, make a selection in May and award a one-year contract in July and have programming begin in August.

The request for proposal wants the operator to be a non-profit corporation, Tremel said.
At this point, the city would want to see that the organization has applied for non-profit status, and have that finalized by the time the contract goes into effect, she said.

The city wants the operator to have 50% of the operational costs on-hand and be able prove throughout the year of the contract that it is financially viable, Tremel said.

Other language in the request for proposal is borrowed from the Public Broadcasting Service, she said.

The rules for the operator will be strict, Tremel said. “If we are threatened with a loss of franchise fees, the contract would cease immediately."

Council member Amber Pollock asked what oversight the city would have regarding the content of the channel.

Napier responded that the city has the oversight concept in the request for proposal and in a contract.

The council will need determine what their tolerance will be about stories and commentary, he said.

"One of the things we will build into the contract and we've addressed, I think, in the RFP appropriately is that the city gets to determine when the service will be ceased and desisted," Napier said.

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