Wai’anae `Olelo – High Risk for Closure!

Aloha mai,

The future of Wai’anae Olelo Community Media Center is at-risk of being closed depending on the decisions made by the DCCA Director Lawrence Reifurth regarding the future support for Olelo Community PEG Media.

Over the past ten years the Wai’anae Olelo Media Center has responded well to the needs of the community with being the first center to work with students from elementary through high school, along with providing training and services to many groups, families and individuals who may not have had access media before Olelo.

The Wai’anae Olelo Media Center has flourished over the years and has gained local and national recognition as a model Community Media Center. Closure of the Wai’anae Olelo CMC and all its’ community building efforts would hinder future development of Media and Communications Technology for the Wai’anae coast communities.

We ask for your support with contacting Director Reifurth, to express concerns of the potential harm his decision can have on the Wai’anae Olelo Community Media Center. Mahalo for the continued support for the people of the Wai’anae coast. Please pass this email along to others in our community.

Me Kealoha Pumehana,

Kawika Naho’opi’i, Manager
Sharlette Poe, CMRC
Jimbo Taylor, CMRC
Interns & Students


Friday, October 9, 2009
Olelo seeks funding, could close 3 Hawaii centers
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) – by Nanea Kalani Pacific Business News

Olelo President Kealii Lopez says funding is not keeping pace with increased demand and interest.

The nonprofit that manages and operates public-access TV channels for Oahu says it has been operating in the red for the past five years and may lay off nine employees and close three community media centers to further cut costs.

Olelo Community Media is seeking additional funding through Oceanic Time Warner Cable, which pays a so-called franchise fee to the state.

While federal law requires cable operators to subsidize public-access TV, the state has local authority to regulate Oceanic and determines the fees paid to Olelo and other public-access organizations. The fee is set at 3 percent of Oceanic’s revenue from cable operations.

Oceanic’s current 20-year franchise agreement ends in December and a new contract is being negotiated with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Honolulu-based Olelo says it hopes the state will consider either increasing the amount that Olelo receives from franchise fees or lifting a cap that the state imposed in 2000 that has cut Olelo’s funding in half over the last five years.
This year, Olelo is receiving $3.4 million in franchise fees, which President Kealii Lopez said represents about 80 percent of the nonprofit’s budget.

“We’re not saying poor Olelo, we know we’re not unlike any other business out there that’s suffering,” said Lopez, noting that the organization has reduced hours at its media centers, implemented a hiring freeze and decreased employee benefits. “The frustrating part is that we are trying to meet increasing demand and interest and there are funds that are available that can be released to help offset our efforts to serve the community.”

Lopez said Olelo used money in its reserves to pay for the opening of two new community media centers last year, adding to the six already in operation on Oahu.
She said demand has grown from its use of a half channel in 1990 to capacity on six channels, with educational programming filling most of two channels, and city and government activities on three others. Original, local programming aired for a total of 5,639 hours last year.

The DCCA placed a formula-based cap on Olelo’s funding in 2000 with the aim of helping pay for a statewide telecommunications network to connect state agencies. The state began collecting funds within Olelo’s designated 3-percent payment from Oceanic, but did not impose a cap on the Neighbor Island public-access stations.
Lopez says the DCCA has collected $5 million to date, including $1.7 million this year.

Olelo wants to use additional funding to be able to provide such services as video teleconferencing, live cablecasting, interisland connectivity, video-on-demand and eventually move to high-definition capacity.

Oceanic President Nate Smith said the cap on Olelo’s funding “is a DCCA issue” and declined to reveal details of the franchise agreement being negotiated with the state.

“But I will say that a 3-percent allocation for PEG (public, educational and governmental access) is a 20-year-old mind-set,” he said.

Smith said that he has seen a decrease in usage numbers on Olelo’s channels, which he attributes to heavier usage of the Internet for broadcasting videos.

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