Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

After rough transition, Ely public access TV back on the air

Keith Vandervort
Posted 11/8/17

ELY – The city of Ely had a few “stumblings” last week, according to Mayor Chuck Novak, in transitioning to a new provider for Ely’s public access television operations.

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After rough transition, Ely public access TV back on the air

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ELY – The city of Ely had a few “stumblings” last week, according to Mayor Chuck Novak, in transitioning to a new provider for Ely’s public access television operations.

After advertising for proposals to manage the public access television operations last summer, the city’s Telecommunications Advisory Board recommended a change in management, and with the City Council’s approval, the city of Ely ended the nearly 10-year relationship with Ely TV and Michael Jankovec. Todd Crego assumed management of the local public television access channels on Nov. 1.

“On the morning of Nov 1, we discovered there was no material on the server running out to the feed,” Novak told city council members Tuesday night. “The material was all backed up and recovered back into the system, so we are getting back in shape.”

Novak introduced Crego, who was busy recording the council session. Crego said he was happy for the opportunity and will take programming suggestions from the public through the City Clerk’s office.

Novak went on to thank Jim Robins from Voltz Electronic for assisting in the back up and recovery of the recorded material that suddenly disappeared from the server on the night of Oct 31. “There was as much as 1.5 tera-bytes of materials and it took over three days to recover the data and put it back into the system,” Novak said.

As for the sudden removal of the recorded materials from the computer server, Novak wouldn’t speculate and indicated there appeared to be some question as to the ownership of that data. Following the meeting Tuesday night, Novak said, “The Broadcasting Contractor Agreement specifically states all recorded data belongs to the city.”

In published statements last week, Jankovec said that during his tenure, he was contractually obligated to record City Council meetings, council study sessions, utility meetings and special meetings.

“Everything else you have seen on Ely TV (channels 11 and 98 on the cable channel lineup) has been done on my own time,” he said. “Every community event, travel show, polka concert, interview, cooking show or anything else seen on Ely TV that wasn’t a meeting has either been filmed by or produced by me. Period.”

Jankovec said all of his personal digital files were “apparently copied by someone” before he left.

“They are now being aired on public access television without my permission,” he said. “I sent notice to both the mayor and operations director to immediately stop airing the programs that have taken me years to produce, yet as of the time of (Nov. 2), my programs continue to be aired on public access.” Numerous periodic random checks of both Ely public access channels as of Nov. 7 verify Jankovec’s claim.

He went on to accuse Crego of stealing his intellectual property. “After almost 10 years of building and providing content for what was an amazing television station, Ely TV has been replaced by an entity that has chosen to take my work without authorization and air it,” he said.

“When I was told I would no longer be providing service to Ely, a motion was made (by the City Council) to provide Ely TV with a letter of thanks for my many years of service, a letter which I never received. It appears that this is the thanks that I get.”

Novak said the City Attorney is preparing a letter to be sent to Jankovec. He wouldn’t divulge the contents. He did say the city is still waiting for the return of some broadcasting equipment.

Contractor duties

Later in the meeting, city council members approved the Broadcaster Contractor Agreement with Crego.

Crego will be paid $1,750 per month for his services. Performance reviews will be conducted at three months, six months, and at the end of the one-year contract.

The Broadcasting Contractor duties shall include:

1. Scheduling of events to cover.

2. Organize and train volunteers or paid employees.

3. Develop programming schedules.

4. Establish and enforce rules and regulations for Public Access use.

5. Establish and manage a Community Events bulletin board.

6. Provide technical services, including engineering as well as actual on air assistance.

7. Perform live broadcasting and film the following meetings: All City Council regular and special meetings, public hearings and study sessions, EEDA meetings, and EUC meetings. If Broadcasting Contractor fails to film and/or broadcast an event described above, a penalty in the amount of $200 per occurrence may be assessed to the Broadcasting Contractor by city. The city shall, in its sole discretion, determine whether to assess said penalty. The city’s waiver of a specific penalty shall not void the filming requirement nor establish precedent as to penalty assessment.

8. Attend all TAB meetings, and provide a current programming schedule, anticipated filming and program schedule for the next month, and summary of previous month’s activities.

9. Said filming shall be performed in a manner that is respectful and courteous to all parties involved,

10. Ensure that all cameras and broadcasting equipment is ready no less than 15 minutes prior to the meetings scheduled start time.

11. Provide the city with archive copy of each City Council meeting within 24 hours of each meeting.

12. Provide contact information to the public and city, so that inquiries and concerns may be addressed.

13. Provide a website for Public Access television to post the schedule of programs and possible viewings of other prerecorded meetings deemed appropriate by TAB.

Other business

In other business, city council members took the following action:

• Approved a proclamation declaring November as General Aviation Appreciation Month;

•OK’d a recommendation from the Park and Recreation Board to remove as many as five trees in Whiteside Park that have been deemed unsafe due to storm damage, and replace them with new trees;

•Reviewed a revision of the city’s Conflict of Interest policy;

• Authorized, on a recommendation from the Employee Relations Committee, to allow the Planning and Zoning Administrator position to be transferred back to the non-essential supervisory unit;

• Took no action on a blight order for the property at 21 W. Shagawa Road, allowing the Building official to proceed with enforcement of the order to include removal of unsafe porches and the demolition of a detached garage, with costs to be assessed to the owner’s property taxes;

• Approved a resolution authorizing application for the Community Development Block Grant program;

• OK’d a request from the Chamber of Commerce to provide in-kind services for the annual Holiday Parade;

• Approved a resolution authorizing the application of the Knights of Columbus Council 3238 to conduct bingo.

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