Hills council action finalizes SWOCC’s demise

Farmington Hills city council members on Monday cast the final votes needed to dissolve the Southwestern Oakland Cable Commission (SWOCC), which will no longer exist after March 31.

Farmington and Novi city councils have already approved the dissolution agreement, which includes paying off existing debt and selling the equipment, fixtures and building located at 33300 W. Nine Mile Rd. in Farmington. Proceeds from the sale will first be applied to outstanding debt; any balance will be split among the three cities.

“This does not mean we are discontinuing any of the services, we are just shifting it,” said Mayor Ken Massey, noting the dissolution had been discussed at a number of study sessions. “We have an equitable dissolution agreement before us.”

In 1982, the three cities formed SWOCC to negotiate a contract with a cable television provider. Since then, the Commission has handled contract negotiations and administered cable contracts, while facilitating public access and government programming.

Officials began considering dissolution with the decline in cable franchise fees, which funded SWOCC, and the passage of a 2006 state law that standardized cable television contracts and severely limited cities’ ability to negotiate with cable providers. The formal process began in 2015, after Novi asked to leave the consortium.

City manager Dave Boyer noted that Farmington Hills is in a unique position with dedicated staff for its government cable channel, who will be relocated from their SWOCC Studios office.