Another flaw in Research Bureau report

posted by Mike on December 18th, 2006

Research Bureau’s cable report:

Bay City, MI ran its public access channel with $30,000 in 2005.

Not exactly. Looks like there is no public access channel in Bay City. Telegram & Gazette:

The Research Bureau used data about the Bay City, Mich., station in its public access cost comparison as it advocated a major funding cut for WCCA amounting to roughly two-thirds of its $650,000 budget.

Bay 3 TV is a local channel funded by the city, county and local schools. Unlike WCCA and the many stations across the country like it, Bay 3 TV does not allow public access to its equipment. In its report, The Research Bureau compared Bay City’s zero funding for public, education and government channels to Worcester’s $1.1 million, money provided by Charter Communications to the city as a franchise fee.

So they’re just flat wrong. Their response:

Research Bureau Director Roberta R. Schaefer defended the inclusion of Bay City in the report. “We did not manufacture a station,” she said. “There’s a station there. It’s just a different combination of things.”

This report is like Swiss cheese.

“This report gets more erroneous and irritating by the minute,” [WCCA-hired] consultant Bunnie Riedel said in an e-mail to [WCCA director] Mr. DePasquale. “These people should stick to their lane in the road and not try to tackle a subject they know nothing about.”

Ms. Schaefer said cable subscribers might question whether WCCA should be spending its money on a consultant hired to promote its work.

Oh, that’s rich. If the City wants honest data about issues in the future, maybe it should hire more consultants and start throwing away Research Bureau reports as soon as they hit the mail room.

More info on Research Bureau’s iffy stats

posted by Mike on December 15th, 2006

Richard Nangle adds a new detail with his article in today’s paper:

“We didn’t just speak to the access people; we also spoke to the city regulators,” [WCCA’s] Mr. DePasquale said. For example, he said, The Research Bureau reported what Fort Worth received in a grant from its cable operator for capital and equipment and left out about $1 million in operating funding from the city.

[The Research Bureau’s] Ms. Schaefer responded, “We did not include capital grants in ours and he included capital grants in his chart.”

I asked them this yesterday: did your report oversimplify the funding picture? Now Ms. Schaefer is admitting that yes, there are aspects of funding that they didn’t report on.

If WCCA’s numbers are right, in some cases the Research Bureau oversimplified to the tune of $1,000,000.

(Not just capital grants, but also operating funds.)

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.

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Reader comment

posted by Mike on December 11th, 2006

A reader comments on the Research Bureau’s cable report:

That report is a joke. If this were a Clark project and I was grading it, I’d give it a D. The background research seems okay, but it’s nothing new. There’s no justification of the conclusions and no attempt to analyze the results of the suggested policy. Smart people shouldn’t even pretend to take this seriously.

The question is, are city councilors able to understand that? Or, will they just see a way to get another $400,000 for the general fund? More cynically, do forces with power in local government want WCCA to continue?

posted by Mike in Research Bureau | on December 11th, 2006 | Permanent Link to “Reader comment” | No Comments »

Research Bureau: many numbers, few clues

posted by Mike on December 11th, 2006

It’s time for the city to renegotiate the cable monopoly, and the Worcester Regional Research Bureau has released a report in which it tries to make sense of the situation.

Among the more controversial recommendations, it wants the city to slash funding for the public access station WCCA TV13 by 2/3.

As a former WCCA employee, current volunteer, and general community media enthusiast, I’ll have some comments later. But a paragraph in today’s T&G story does a nice job highlighting the cluelessness of the WRRB researchers:

“The city should specify clearly in its contract with WCCA that public access funding be used for production and training — those activities related to providing public access,” the Research Bureau said. “Services that WCCA currently provides, such as a community computer lab, may be deemed by the city as an unnecessary expense for the public access studio and not a suitable public access service.” Mr. DePasquale said the computer lab is made up of donated equipment and that the only cost to the station is the electricity needed to run the computers.

Yes, the WRRB thinks the city should ditch four public computers in order to save the electricity costs. Penny wise and pound foolish.

According to an assessment WCCA had conducted earlier this year:

“From a brief look at the community survey, it looks like WCCA is enjoying a seventy-five percent approval rating from the community,” said Riedel.