The City Council consensus gave staff direction at Thursday's Study Session to move forward with plans to develop a city-run cable news program.
Councilman Julian Gold requested that the city consider re-establishing a news show so that residents are aware of the latest decisions coming out of City Hall—from council study sessions and formal meetings to commission meetings. The city's most recent cable news program was 2005's Beverly Hills In Focus.
"Over the course of the last month we've had so many discussions about 'How do we inform our residents about what's going on?'" Gold said. "One of the things we actually haven't done is use to its fullest capacity our beautiful new cable studio."
The city's Cable TV division moved into a state-of-the-art studio at 331 Foothill Road last year.
Content for the news program would be selected by communications staff and written by cable staff, according to Public Information Manager Therese Kosterman. The delivery of the news (e.g. anchor, voice-over with B-roll) is still up for discussion. Staff suggested the show air weekly, with episodes also available on the city website. The program would offer a summary of the city's top news.
"The focus would be on news appeal, educational value and how city government impacts residents and businesses," Kosterman said.
The estimated out-of-pocket costs for producing a news show are payments for freelance staff. Costs would vary depending on the show format and whether the show has a volunteer anchor ($3,000-$12,300 annually) or a paid anchor ($6,600-$22,300 annually). The city's current cable budget does not include funding for an anchor. No out-of-pocket costs are associated with permanent staff who work on the program.
Backing the proposal with Gold were Mayor William Brien and Councilman Barry Brucker. Vice Mayor John Mirisch went against the item and Councilwoman Lili Bosse was not at the session.
"I think this is a great opportunity to increase our communication with our citizens," Brucker said.
Mirisch said he believed a better way to keep residents informed would be to televise all commission meetings the same way that council meetings are broadcast. He was against the idea of staff creating a summary of city news.
"I think it's very problematic from a journalistic point of view...when you have something ultimately controlled by the city council reporting on itself," Mirisch said. "To me, that reminds me a little bit too much of the old Soviet Union."
Brien noted that he would "like to see a greater definition of exactly how it's going to run," but remained enthusiastic about the potential for a city-produced cable news program.
"This is a way to share with people the facts of what happened at commission meetings and council meetings," Brien said.
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