Minneapolis Unwired: MTN & the Portals

Mayor Rybak has proposed that $100,000 be moved from the Minneapolis Television Network’s (MTN) budget and applied to the Minneapolis Wireless Community Portal Project. MTN helps Minneapolis residents produce television shows with local content.

You can certainly argue that the Internet and web can replace much of the usefulness of public access cable RSN (real soon now). But that “now” isn’t here yet and it looks to me that MTN is still serving a community need. I talked to MTN staff and they told me of on-air Somali talk shows where the phone rings continuously, and of people sharing cable accounts and gathering together to watch public access (not something you generally do with a computer and Internet connection).

Please read what Aaron Landry has to say over here (and check the comments where I weigh in). For a longer and more chaotic discussion, check out the eDemocracy Minneapolis Issues Forum discussion. You can find a Powerpoint presentation at the Digital Access site which is a version of the one used at the recent wireless info community meetings. Local vid blogger citizen journalist Chuck Olsen made a video of one of the presentations at his (now retired!) Minnesota Stories site.

Catherine Settanni posts at the Mpls issues forum. She is under contract with the City of Minneapolis and working on the community portals. She states that city residents see a “critical need for local, community-based Internet content to be made available via the USI Wireless Minneapolis network.” I have no reason to doubt that but I don’t think residents were ever asked if they see that need as so important that we should dismantle the current system for producint local, community-based content: MTN and public access cable.

Stakeholders in this issue have not been brought to the table for an in-depth discussion of options and how to pay for them.

OK. I’m done. Read Aaron’s post at least.

Bonus Links

MTN Needs Assessment from 2004 including surveys of who’s watching.

(Garrick Van Buren predicts the future in this 2005 post.)

Statement by MTN director Pam Colby.

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