COTTONWOOD –“We have tried really hard to not be up here standing in front of you,” said Yavapai Broadcasting financial manager Jackie Bessler at Tuesday’s City Council worksession.
Yavapai Broadcasting came before the council asking for financial assistance so that they may continue to provide services. Currently, Yavapai Broadcasting airs Council meetings over local government access channels 2 (Suddenlink) and 56 (CableOne).
For a number of years, Yavapai Broadcasting has provided free broadcasting services for the city. According to a staff report, the original intent was to provide a free broadcasting services for the city that would be paid for through advertising revenue. Yavapai Broadcasting indicated that this plan hasn’t panned out, and has been losing thousands of dollars every year on this service.
The service is an important part of being transparent with the public, the Council noted.
Yavapai Broadcasting owner Grant Hafley said financial assistance is needed or “I can’t afford to do this anymore.”
Yavapai Broadcasting is asking for $42,000 to keep running and to break even. The funding would come from the General Fund.
“They can’t afford the loss they’ve taken providing this program. They are asking the city to help provide these services,” explained City Manager Doug Bartosh.
Mayor Tim Elinski asked how many municipalities fund public access broadcasting.
It is not unusual, said Bartosh. Sedona and Prescott do so, and it is especially common in bigger cities, he added.
While the exact viewership of Yavapai Broadcasting is unknown, it was stated at the meeting that there were approximately 15,000 household subscribers between Cable One and Suddenlink throughout the Verde Valley and beyond, even as far as Munds Park, who have access to the government access channels.
Grant briefly mentioned his career in broadcasting. He said he considers Yavapai Broadcasting his swan song. He said it hasn’t paid off as well as he had hoped, “but it is rewarding.”
“They are not here for the money,” said council member Kyla Allen. “They are here for the community.”
Yavapai Broadcasting has supported local charities, and has provided other services, such as putting up the city’s Christmas lights, for free.
Council member Deb Althouse inquired about how much it would cost for the city to do its own in-house broadcasting.
If the city would take it on themselves, it could cost between $120,000 and 150,000 a year just for basic programing, said Bessler.
Elinski said he would like to see a proposal, what would be included in the services offered, and what other communities have done.