Friday, April 19, 2024

Computer instruction is part of the work at Cambridge Community Television, which councillors said Monday they would like to help in its move to new studios. (Photo: Colin Rhinesmith)

Cambridge Community Television is looking toward reopening Oct. 25 in its new studio and office space, and city councillors and the city manager are indicating the city might offer financial help to meet that goal.

The possibility arose during talk of a fairly routine transfer of $26,430 to the cable station, which broadcasts public access programming. Comcast, the city’s sole cable provider, pays the city back 5 percent of its Cambridge revenue each year, and 60 percent of that goes to CCTV; this year, Comcast’s revenue was a little higher than expected, and on Feb. 1 the city got an extra $44,050, leading to City Manager Robert W. Healy’s request for the transfer at Monday’s meeting of the City Council.

It sparked an idea in councillor Ken Reeves.

“Where CCTV is going to be moving and outfitting a new studio they have to do the buildout for, I would say should they need our one-time help in addition to what’s here, I’m hoping we will cast a favorable eye over there,” Reeves said.

Healy indicated his intentions were aligned with Reeves.

“As we strive to complete the cable negotiations, we anticipate there would be a capital payment that will be made in some as-yet-to-be-known amount, and I would [talk] with CCTV to see what would be appropriate to assist them in their new venture and new home,” Healy said.

The project is going to cost $2.3 million, said Susan Fleischmann, executive director of CCTV, and the station is working to raise $600,000, with the balance “more or less secured from CCTV reserves, tenant improvement allowance from MIT and what we are hoping to get from the cable license.”

“We have not started the public capital campaign yet, but have been meeting with many in the city who we hope can help us either by providing funding, goods and services, or connections to others with resources,” Fleischmann said.

Part of Reeves’ suggestion was based on his concern CCTV would find few wealthy people or institutions to step forward with large gifts. “They don’t have exactly the best-heeled base,” he said.

City councillor Leland Cheung also expressed concern, noting he’d visited the station’s studios several times recently and was impressed by its work. He wondered if it was possible to increase the amount CCTV got from Comcast revenue — to all of the money the city got back instead of just 60 percent. But the remaining 40 percent is what televises government functions such as the council meeting under way, Healy reminded him.

“It wouldn’t be wise,” Healy said.

The city has received $1,341,040 for the current fiscal year from Comcast, an improvement over the $1,296,990 that had been estimated, Healy said. With the additional appropriation, but not including the potential one-time aid from the city, CCTV will get a total of $804,625.