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(a) The County may contract with one or more community media organizations using funds from the Cable TV Special Revenue Fund or any other funds the County designates for community media in the approved County budget and under the County cable communications plan. Unless prohibited or otherwise limited under its contract with the County, the cable communications plan, or any executive regulation, a community media organization may also receive revenues from other sources.
(b) The purpose of a community media organization is to provide community media training, equipment, facilities, centers, and community media engagement platforms to enable residents, businesses and community organizations to engage with, connect to, and inform other residents, businesses, community organizations, governments and agencies by using community media. Supporting community engagement, communication, and education through community media and use of community media engagement platforms builds better understanding among a diverse population, increases opportunities for participation in and awareness of local culture and government, and promotes quality of life and economic development.
(c) The County may require a community media organization to perform one or more of the following functions as specified in the contract between the County and the community media organization:
(1) manage the community media engagement platforms, including public access channels assigned to it by the County, community media websites and social media, and manage community media centers, facilities, and equipment;
(2) establish policies and procedures for the use of any community media engagement platform and any community media center, facility, or equipment;
(3) train members of the community in the production of community media and use of any community media engagement platform;
(4) maintain any community media engagement platform and community media center, facility, or equipment for community use, including use by the general public, any community organization, and the business community;
(5) provide technical community media engagement platform and community media center, facility and equipment assistance and support to the County, any participating municipality, and any educational institution;
(6) promote the use and benefits of community media and any community media engagement platform;
(7) produce and distribute local community media, including community news, programs and other media content; and
(8) undertake any other community media-related activity specified by the County as being in the public interest.
(d) A community media organization must:
(1) determine independently in the public interest and without government interference the content and scheduling of programming for any community media engagement platform;
(2) develop and implement policies to ensure fair, non-partisan and unbiased coverage of issues on any community media engagement platform and may not promote the candidacy of any candidate for public office by extending opportunities for use not extended to other candidates for the same office;
(3) develop and implement policies and programs that promote organizational sustainability and viability;
(4) promote and encourage creation of community media content representing a diversity of community interests and needs; and
(5) make a good faith effort to meet the affirmative action and minority, female, and disabled procurement goals that apply to County government.
(e) Any officer, director, or executive director of a community media organization must annually disclose, confidentially and in writing, any communications-related activity or interest to the governing board of directors for the community media organization.
(f) A community media organization must provide a copy of its current articles of incorporation and bylaws to the County Executive and the County Council before the organization contracts with the County. Any proposed amendments must be submitted to the County Executive and County Council for review and comment at least 60 days before the organization takes final action on the amendment. The organization must submit a copy of all adopted amendments to the Executive and the Council within 5 working days of adoption. The organization’s articles of incorporation and bylaws are subject to all County laws, including those enacted after the County contracts with the organization.
(g) A community media organization must provide the County with regular and complete financial reports as well as all other reports required under its contract with the County.
Editor’s note—See County Attorney Opinion dated 6/12/08 regarding Montgomery Community Television’s lack of authority to require members to pay dues.