CASPER, Wyo. — During their pre-meeting on Tuesday, the Casper City Council directed city staff to develop a request for proposals (RFP) for use of the city’s cable access channel.
Former K2TV news director Mark Hyman had previously asked the council to enter into a contract with a non-profit organization that would provide programming under the name “Casper 1” on the city’s cable access channel 192.
Hyman presented his vision to the council during their Oct. 27 work session. Following that discussion, city staff conducted further research into how the council could proceed with the idea if they want to do so.
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City Manager Carter Napier explained that the city would need to solicit proposals from other entities besides Hyman’s through a request for proposals process in order to ensure everyone would have the opportunity.
Napier added that staff recommend that the city ask applicants to show that they have the ability to fund the programming that would be broadcast. Hyman’s Casper 1 proposal estimates start up costs along with first year expenses would total $591,250.
Casper 1’s proposal would not ask for funding from the city, but would seek to raise funding from private and corporate donations.
Napier also added that the city’s franchise agreement with Spectrum for use of cable channel 192 limits the type of content which could be streamed. That would be limited to educational programming.
Napier recommended that the council find ways to retain the ability to pull out of a contract to allow a nonprofit operating the cable access channel if the organization was engaged in streaming that would violate the city’s contract with Spectrum.
He added that council should keep in mind that the organization providing programming over the city’s cable access channel might at times offer views that differ from those of the city or the city council. Napier suggested council think about what they would be comfortable with in terms of allowing access of the channel to an entity that might editorialize content in different ways.
Councilman Ken Bates asked whether the city could frame their request for proposals in such a way that would limit applicants only to people living in Casper or Wyoming.
City Attorney John Henley said that precluding someone from applying in response to the requests based on their residency could be seen as a form of discrimination. He added that even if a local organization is selected to contract with the city, that would be no guarantee the local organization wouldn’t subcontract someone out of state to carry out operations.
Councilman Mike Huber said he thought the city could address Bates’ concern by making the applications open to anyone regardless of residency, but stipulate that they must be able to conduct the services through a local base of operation.
Councilman Charlie Powell added that city staff tend to provide rubrics for scoring proposals received through such request processes. He said the rubric for this request for proposals could weight toward knowledge of the local community.
Powell also asked whether Spectrum would give the city a warning should an entity broadcast content not allowed under the city’s agreement with Spectrum.
Napier said that Spectrum has been cooperative “have indicated they would be a helpful partner through all of this.”
Councilman Steve Cathey asked why Casper 1 wasn’t pursuing securing their own cable access channel with Spectrum and was instead seeking to use the city’s Spectrum channel.
He said that the city would be saving the proposed “Casper 1” channel money that they would be charged if Casper 1 were to secure their own Spectrum channel.
“I still don’t understand why Casper 1 has not gone out and gone to Spectrum and just be done with this,” Cathey said.
Hyman told the council that he would need to look into that question more before he could provide a reason he was not pursuing that route.
The council asked city staff to move forward with drafting a request for proposals to use the city’s cable access channel. City staff’s recommendations to the council prior to the state of the discussion are as follows:
If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:
Mayor Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 259-1276
Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 359-3673
Councilman Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 577-6042
Councilman Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 337-5057
- (307) 277-7377
Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 473-1247
Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 262-8237
Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 472-1837
Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 266-4188
Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 258-1226
Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601
If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.