People TV, Inc., Winding Down, Preparing Dissolution (UPDATE 1)

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(APN) ATLANTA — People TV, Inc., is winding down as an organization in what appears to be the final months of the historic Atlanta institution, and is preparing to formally dissolve as a corporation with the office of the Secretary of State of Georgia, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

The last day of People TV programming is planned to be November 04, 2012.

It is not immediately clear what will be replacing People TV; however, some hints have begun to surface, and the City of Atlanta previously anticipated the possibility of creating a new entity to provide programming for Channel 24, one of the City’s remaining public access channels under its contract with cable provider Comcast.

“Today we learned some good news in that the Mayor’s office confirms they are committed to creating community television for Atlanta.  Unfortunately… there is still no information to announce about who will be the provider or what the exact plans will be,” Charlotte Engel, CEO of People TV, wrote in an email to producers dated July 12, 2012.

“The next generation of People TV and public access television will be ‘Community Television’ and will be developed by an organization that will provide a video platform and format for the distribution of content produced by Atlanta residents.  People TV, Inc. will be dissolved effective no later than December 31, 2012,” Engel wrote.

People TV is currently in the last year of a three year contract with the City of Atlanta that expires December 31, 2012.  

“The city has advised this contract will not be renewed beyond 2012… The city has indicated the corporation will receive no additional funding,” Engel wrote.

As previously reported by APN, the City of Atlanta agreed to provide People TV with 500,000 dollars for 2010 through 2012, with the expectation that People TV would raise any remaining revenues it needed.  

This was a significant cut in operational funds for People TV, but was in part because Comcast cut the funding it had previously provided for Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) channels when Comcast renegotiated its contract with the City.

When People TV was unable to raise much in other revenues, the City of Atlanta provided People TV with an additional 180,000 dollars on December 05, 2011.  If the City had not done that, the City would have been in danger of possibly losing the channel altogether, because when the City does not provide sufficient programming for a channel, Comcast takes the channel back.

Accordingly, the City of Atlanta must have some alternative plan for providing content for Channel 24 after November 04, or else the channel itself will be in danger.

People TV was incorporated on June 24, 1986, according to Secretary of State records.  

On December 15, 1986, the City Council passed its first of many resolutions over twenty-six years authorizing the Mayor to enter into an agreement with People TV to provide cable access for the City of Atlanta.

In a recent email, Adrian Coleman, a producer on People TV, asked Engel why the City of Atlanta was still appointing Board Members to People TV when the organization was preparing to dissolve.

At the July 31, 2012, meeting of the City Utilities Cmte, Maynard Eaton and Dr. Johnny Wilson, nominees of Mayor Kasim Reed, were appointed to the People TV Board of Directors.

Earlier this year, James Bond, the uncle of Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large); and Michael Brown were appointed to the Board as well.

“These Board members may want to work with you to keep some type of organization going for the community but their service and this meeting has been called as part of the dissolution process.  So please don’t be angry or upset to find that the business conducted will not be about developing a new mission,” Engel wrote.

“As an organization, we continue our dialogue with the City but have to be realistic with where we are up against at this juncture.  Preparation for what appears to be inevitable is unfortunately necessary,” Engel wrote.

“The City is many years late in complying with the contract and in my opinion there is simply no excuse,” Engel wrote.

While the Mayor has made three appointments this year to the Board of People TV, two of them were made literally as the organization prepares to dissolve as a Georgia corporation.

Overall, the Mayor has failed to make required appointments to the Board since he began his term at the beginning of 2010.  This led, in part, to the difficulty of the Board in gathering a quorum of members in order to meet and conduct business, thus making it difficult for People TV to respond to the funding shortfall that was facing the organization.

(END/2012)

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that James Bond is the nephew of Councilman Bond; however, the reverse is true, and the article has been corrected to reflect that James Bond is the uncle of Michael Julian Bond.  The error resulted from an apparent clerical error by the City of Atlanta on 12-C-0272; APN has notified Municipal Clerk Rhonda Dauphin Johnson of the error as well.

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