Montezuma County plan for TV broadcast opens up public records issue

The Journal (Cortez): The Montezuma County Commission has agreed to draw up a $9,600 contract with Mesa TV to live-stream county meetings, and rebroadcast edited versions at a convenient time.

Although the deal’s stated purpose is to provide more access to meetings, it raises questions regarding Colorado open records law.

Currently, the county live-streams the commission meetings on its website, but does not record or archive them. For the past year, Mesa TV has been live-streaming the commissioner meetings free of charge on antenna channel 30.6 by tapping into the county’s video feed.

The county has verbally agreed to draw up a contract to pay for the live-stream.

“We would like to grow as a business, and the more local content the better,” said Mesa TV CEO Jedekiah Coy.

Commissioners and Mesa TV discussed that an edited version of the commissioner and planning meetings be replayed over the weekend, which would require the meetings be recorded.

“The attraction for me is rebroadcasting at a better time,” said commissioner Keenan Ertel. “It should just be the meat and potatoes of the meetings. We’re willing to give it a try and see if the public picks up on it.”

However, according to Colorado open records law, if a government initiates an electronic recording of a public meeting, it becomes public record. “Tapes, recordings and digitally stored data” of meetings by local and state government fall under the definition of public records, according to Colorado public records law.

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