Critics cry foul as Denver plans shakeup to public-access media

The Colorado Independent: The nonprofit that runs Denver’s public-access media facility is rallying its users and 300-plus members to appeal to Mayor Hancock to keep the operation in its current home, and to hear their concerns about possible staff and service cuts.

The city’s contract with Denver’s Open Media Foundation — the public’s open-access resource for media training and production — expires in two months. The city has proposed moving the TV, radio and video production equipment from its office at 700 Kalamath St. (also home to The Colorado Independent and other nonprofits) where it has been operating for 12 years, to temporary quarters in the City and County Building. Production would later move to Rocky Mountain PBS’s new headquarters at 21st and Arapahoe streets in downtown Denver. That downtown facility is slated to open in 2020, and the city’s purchasing about 4,500 square feet of space there.

Ann Theis, Denver Open Media station director, recently issued an alarm about the proposed changes, posting an appeal to public access supporters:

“I am writing you today to let you know that the City of Denver has released a Request for Proposals that puts the future of Denver Open Media and Public Access TV at a critical turning-point. … If you don’t make your voice heard, Denver Open Media will cease to exist as we’ve known it by the end of 2018.”

The city’s RFP calls for the Public Access office to be consolidated from a team that currently has four full-time staffers down to a single individual. Open Media leaders have warned this will dramatically reduce the level of service to the public in regard to training, administration, fundraising, and video and web consulting. The vision laid out in the RFP makes it impossible for the hundreds of individuals and nonprofit and government clients who use Open Media every year to reap the same benefits they do now, the organization says. Among Open Media’s clients are hundreds of producers — youth, artists and nonprofits included — who create more than 2,000 shows and podcasts a year that are broadcast over local channels.

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