Research Bureau: wrong cable numbers?

posted by Mike on December 14th, 2006

WCCA double-checked the figures in the Research Bureau’s cable report, and found serious errors in the figures for public, educational, and government channel (PEG) funding:

Grand Rapids numbers were underreported by over one million dollars.

The most interesting tidbit is in a footnote. WCCA contacted the Cable Services Manager for the city of Fort Worth, TX, which the Research Bureau listed as spending $744K on PEG:

Mr. Westerman said he had tried to tell the Research Bureau that the $744,000 was only for capital and equipment, but he felt they didn’t understand. Fort Worth also receives an additional $1,000,000 for operations.

As a proud WCCA volunteer, I get asked about cable in Worcester, so I want to understand the situation.

From reading the reports, I couldn’t figure out how the Research Bureau could have omitted so much of the funding that these other stations were getting.

So I called the Research Bureau this morning to ask.

I talked to a woman who worked on the report. She said they stand by the numbers, and didn’t seem to think they were going to follow up and defend their report against WCCA’s charges.

I asked if maybe they were oversimplifying the picture, and she said no. She said they’d sent the report to all the cities that had supplied the numbers and the cities had confirmed them. I suggested that maybe it was not top priority for Fort Worth officials to puzzle through the report and understand exactly what the Research Bureau was reporting on, but she didn’t bite. I told her that at this point I am doubtful of the credibility of their report, but even this didn’t provoke a defense.

She was very polite and honest, and I think my persistent questions were more than she wanted to handle at 9 in the morning, because she then transferred me to Executive Director Roberta Schaefer, who was angry right out of the gate. “This is not just about WCCA,” she told me. She seemed to think the time for public debate was long past: “This is now an issue for public officials to decide.” She also insisted that they’d spent a lot of time and effort on the report.

So there you go.

WCCA has some talking points if you want to put in your two cents.

Worcester Magazine has a long article about the station this week.

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