SWOCC’s demise brings Farmington a new cable director

With the March 31 dissolution of the Southwestern Oakland Cable Commission (SWOCC), the cities of Farmington, Farmington Hills and Novi have struck out on their own when it comes to local public access, government, and educational programming.

The City of Novi has partnered with its school district, the City of Farmington Hills will keep its existing cable production team. And on Monday, the City of Farmington contracted with Farmington resident and long-time public access volunteer Brian Golden* to direct its cable programming.

Golden said he took a “proactive approach” and brought a proposal to City Manager David Murphy when it became clear the SWOCC agreement would come to an end. He met with Murphy and Farmington Hills City Manager David Boyer, “to make sure we were all on the same page.”

“I think the most important aspect is engagement and allowing people that live within the city to interact with television and television production,” he said. “That comes by way of public access.”

Golden’s proposal includes continuing a program to train public access producers who, in addition to creating their own programming, will provide a base of volunteers for city productions. In addition to continuing live broadcasts and archiving of local government meetings, he proposes new interview shows to highlight city activity, coverage of all major events, creation of ads to promote the city, and creation of a City of Farmington web channel.

Murphy said through the one-year agreement, Golden will continue providing public access services he covered as a volunteer, as well as taking over the city programming previously provided by SWOCC staff, to include broadcast of local government meetings and coverage of major city events, like the Founders Festival parade.

Golden will be paid $26,400 annually, money that comes to the city through franchise fees paid by cable provider Bright House Networks. Murphy said the one year agreement can be terminated by either party with 60-day notice, or immediately for cause. If it doesn’t work out, he added, the alternative would be working with the City of Farmington Hills.

Council member Greg Cowley said he felt the city didn’t use SWOCC Studios “as well as we could” to promote business. “I’m glad we’ve got a Farmington person driving it,” he said. “I’m glad we’ve got somebody with passion.”

Mayor Bill Galvin and council member Steven Schneemann asked Golden questions about content, and while acknowledging he has little control over public access productions, “if I’m shooting for the city, that’s a completely different animal.”

City attorney Thomas Schultz pointed out that as the city’s media director, Golden serves under direction of the city manager. “To the extent he’s working for you…there’s a natural check and balance. It’s going to be between Dave and Brian how that works out.”

*Mr. Golden is Farmington Voice publisher Joni Hubred-Golden’s husband.