More staff, more outreach ahead for FCAT
SOUTH DEERFIELD — To increase staff and broaden local coverage, Frontier Community Access Television will increase its budget by $16,753.
The total budget will increase from $113,986 in the current year to $130,739 in the coming year.
FCAT is the public access cablevision station providing education and government news to Comcast subscribers from its small, two-room office on Elm Street to residents in Conway, Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland.
The station is run by Doug Finn, the executive director, and Kevin Murphy, the outreach director.
“The budget represents an increase over last year because we’re doing more,” said Finn.
Conway’s contribution will be $6,640, an increase of 0.1 percent. Deerfield’s contribution is $69,909, or a 27 percent increase. Sunderland would see a $34,335, or 18 percent, increase and Whately’s assessment will be $17,644, or 12 percent more.
The towns do not vote on the budget. And the increase would not be funded with tax dollars.
According to the 2006 franchise agreement between the towns and the cable company, FCAT draws its annual budget from cable revenues.
In exchange, Comcast has the right to use the streets and poles of the four towns for its cable. Comcast returns a percentage of its profit to the towns, which they can only use to fund a public access station.
The total budget is paid for proportionately by each town, depending on the number of cable subscribers in each town.
Though Deerfield’s amount represents a dramatic increase, the request still allows the town to keep 10 percent of its 2014 Comcast revenues — about $8,000 — to offset costs for the town website and heating expenses incurred by the FCAT office. FCAT has also increased its coverage of community meetings and events.
In Sunderland, FCAT anticipates providing more coverage of town events, including library presentations and community activities. Like Deerfield, it still allows about 25 percent, or $14,000, of cable revenues to remain with the town.
In Whately, the station producers hope to increase local media coverage for the town, providing coverage of sports, music and other events.
Additional expenses are due to two new staff positions that will bring the number of part-time staff up to three.
One position will be a 10-hour production assistant who would provide regular production capability to the FCAT team, increasing office hours, training classes or awareness activities.
The second position would be a 15-hour production and schedule coordinator who would provide organizational and operational support.
The staff positions reflect a shift from “contract labor” interns. And they will allow Finn to do more outreach, such as working with businesses and the Frontier Regional and Union 38 schools.
FCAT will also use part of its leftover earnings from the FY2013 budget to buy new equipment. Purchases include replacement of the administration computer and four editing computers with new hardware. FCAT will also replace its two Sony camcorders and tripods with Canon XF-100 HD cameras and professional tripods to improve the visual quality of field productions.
Finn said the purchases do not affect the station’s bottom line or impact the towns’ assessments. On top of that, FCAT is reserving nearly $50,000 as a “cash reserve” and will draw on that amount for short-term borrowing throughout the year.
The budget includes about $3,300 for advertising and promotional materials, Finn said.
Much of the expenses are due to costs for advertising T-shirts, buttons, magnets and pens. FCAT plans to sell these to promote what the station does within the community.
Other costs involve staff training and development. With the new staff, FCAT plans to hold basic and advanced computer and media workshops for staff and the public, which could require training materials.
FCAT also seeks to provide certification for staff in Adobe Media suite used for video and audio editing. Certification costs range from $300 for a one-day class to $2,500 for a week-long course.
You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.