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The exterior of the CMAP building on Monterey Street in downtown Gilroy.

Congratulations to the folks at CMAP for winning approval to continue operations from the Gilroy City Council at the May 20 meeting.

The city’s staff had recommended to councilmembers that they decide to move away from using outside contract-based services such as CMAP (Community Media Access Partnership) and bring the public-education-government (PEG) channels and franchise fees from cable television to the city. The reasons they gave was that the city could then “use recuperated PEG and cable company’s franchise fee money to enhance the city communication service delivery model including broadcasting services and upgraded equipment.” By moving broadcast services “in-house” and discontinuing the contract with CMAP, the staff stated in its report, “the city can improve its communication strategy, broadcasting infrastructure, and services at no additional cost and ensure the transparent, auditable, and equitable use of public money.”

After hearing from Becca Reed, executive director at CMAP, on the value the organization gives the Gilroy public in media services, the council voted to continue the contract with CMAP, thus preventing the nonprofit from closing its doors in July. CMAP and city staff are now working on developing details for the partnership to continue.

Public access stations such as CMAP need to be protected. They’re an excellent way to protect our First Amendment  rights to freedom of speech and media using digital and cable technology. They empower ordinary citizens who have no access to TV stations to use video broadcasts to spotlight issues in their community. Members of the public can have their own TV shows focusing on topics as wide-ranging as cooking, hiking or government issues.

“CMAP is your Public Access TV station,” Reed told us. “Our role in the community is to provide you, the public, access to tools, training and opportunities to be ‘the media.’  Anyone in Gilroy can share their opinions, ideas, expertise, information, music, sports, arts and culture projects and just about anything else on Charter Cable channel 18.”

CMAP is Gilroy’s unfiltered free speech channel, she said. It is committed to promoting civic engagement and creative self­-expression.

At its studio site in downtown Gilroy, CMAP staff teach low-cost basic video production skills to community members. CMAP is committed to service journalism and produces local-focused shows such as “Inside Gilroy,” which features interviews with South Valley leaders about current issues. It also helps nonprofits share messages and expand their reach through public service announcement days, when members help local nonprofits produce these videos to the public.

CMAP also provides tools, and equipment for use in the studio or the field. They also provide the studio itself, fully equipped, along with a professional editing suite and audio booth, all at very little or no cost. When a locally-produced project is ready for airtime, CMAP will give video-makers access to distribution on their cable channel and online stream.

We’re especially keen on CMAP’s Youth Media Works/Youth Media Makers, a free digital program for local at-risk youth, building in them the skills and self-confidence they need to thrive in the digital age. “Youth create their own media projects, build their resumes, and learn new job skills,” Reed told us. “Our after-school and internship programs are open to high school students living in Gilroy, based on referrals from school counselors, administrators or other youth programs.  “

A couple of years ago to help pay for its operations, CMAP opened it Greenhouse co-working space located at Fifth and Monterey streets. Gilroy Life uses a space at this location. It offers coworking, private offices, meeting and conference rooms, creating an environment that promotes connections between creative and professional communities in our area. The Greenhouse has also played a role in the revitalization of downtown Gilroy,” Reed told us. “We brought an empty building back to life and filled it with start-ups, nonprofits and entrepreneurs bringing many more people downtown,” she said.

As folks in the media biz, we’re glad that the Gilroy City Council approved a continued partnership with CMAP. We hope that with the renewal of the contract, this partnership will thrive throughout the coming years as the organization provides public access television and other media services to the Gilroy community to protect and enhance its quality of life.

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Gilroy Life Editorial

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