City Council Seeks Changes at Haverhill Community TV

The makeup of municipal representation to the Haverhill Community Television, or HC Media, board of directors, is expected to undergo further scrutiny by a city council subcommittee.

Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night unanimously passed a motion from Councilor Melinda Barrett to have the Administration and Finance Committee review recently reported revisions to the bylaws of HC Media, which reportedly would remove representatives for the mayor, the public schools, the public library, and Northern Essex Community College from the HC Media board.

Councilor Melinda Barrett, who brought the matter to the council, said $8 million in public money is expended on the endeavor, and city representation is expressly written into the original bylaws from HCTV’s inception.

“I think the back-and-forth and the abrupt changes, or the seemingly abrupt changes to their makeup, seems to make them seem like they’re trying to close off public scrutiny. Whether that be the case or not, it appears that way,” Barrett said.

Councilor William H. Ryan said the city needs to be on board with the future direction of HC Media. He hinted the city could cut HCTV off during the next round of Comcast negotiations.

“Why they did it, what’s going on and what their future plans are, so that we can be on board because there is a point in the next few years where we have to renew the contract with the cable provider. That obviously should be a very important day for people at local access TV, because if the city went in a different direction, it could be fatal."

David Van Dam, chief of staff to Mayor James J. Fiorentini, spoke on the mayor’s behalf from a written statement calling the retention of the city’s board representative Stanley W. Colten “a good and promising step forward, but it does not solve all of the issues.

HCTV is a non-profit corporation and received $816,266 from Comcast subscribers in 2013. The amount comes from a contract signed by the City of Haverhill with the cable company. The only other money the group received then was $11,183 in investment income. In the tax return, HCTV said it paid $388,682 to employees, including $120,844 to Darlene Beal, executive director.

All non-profit organizations are considered public, and regulated by the Massachusetts Attorney General.

2 thoughts on “City Council Seeks Changes at Haverhill Community TV

  1. Hypothetically, if there were 20k subscribers in Haverhill, that would mean $41 out of what they pay every year to Comcast goes to HCTV. That seems like a lot of money. Does anyone know how many Comcast subscribers there are ? Is there a specific formula that must be used to calculate this “donation” total ? I am confused as this money comes from the people. So why can’t the people who pay it have representation ??

  2. Another example of an organization that required a great deal of support to get themselves up and running. They succeeded and now want to push the supporters out, or at least minimize their role in the future. However 80-90% of their financial support comes from a City negotiated contract. Sounds like the usual non-profit hanky panky to grab the money for a few insiders.