A proposal for a partnership between Madison TV-15 and WKM News was voted down during Thursday night’s Public Video Service Board meeting.

The local video production company came to the board with a proposed “agreement of services” during its February meeting, but discussion was tabled until board members had time to study the proposal.

The proposal called for WKM to “produce the video content and otherwise operate Madison TV-15,” and would have allowed WKM employees “access to all equipment, software, services and other assets currently used...free of charge.”

Board member Bob Mann started discussion Thursday night telling board members that he was still a bit mystified by the previous presentation and the proposal from the video production company.

“It just seemed like it’s going to be a commercial venture somehow,“ Mann said. “I don’t see how that’s going to work with a government agency.”

Mann also noted that when he visited WKM News’ site, he often had trouble loading videos and worried that perhaps the same might happen to TV-15 videos if the proposal was accepted.

Board member Larry Henry took issue with the $2,750 monthly fee. On top of that, he said, the proposal called for only 10 percent of any sponsorship monies to be paid to the Public Service Video Board.

“So basically this has become a profit center, money-making deal,” Henry said. “I have a big, big problem with that.”

Henry also noted that the proposal left WKM assuming no liabilities and another line in the agreement that called for the board to fully cooperate and “promptly consider for amendment any rules, regulations or policies under the control of PVSB that may prohibit or hinder WKM News from increasing the quality and programming of Madison TV-15.”

“Well that’s our job,” Henry said of the board. “That’s what the interlocal agreement says, that we’re in charge of that. Also that we defer to them in the day-to-day operations of that. This is a government entity and I don’t think we really turn that over any time.”

The proposal he said, could limit anyone from submitting additional programming to the station.

“We have certain rules. Anybody comes in here and meets the rules – put your stuff on the air. It’s that simple and that’s what it’s supposed to be to get the public involved.”

Board president Dan Hoffman said that he believes WKM “could and should contribute to the station,” but after reading the proposal’s points on what he believed would eliminate the board’s power, he couldn’t support the idea.

“We have no control over anything that happens,” Hoffman said. “Basically what we’re saying here is ‘give us complete control over your station. Pay us for it. We’ll give you 10 percent of whatever we get off of any kind of franchising, ads or whatever and – oh by the way – if we don’t like something in your bylaws you darn well better change it.

“So I’m just not real crazy about it at this point after I saw the presentation and read what I read. I’m just being completely honest.”

Board vice-president Kenny Garrett agreed, and said it would be silly to effectively sign an agreement that leaves the board powerless.

William Ball, a WKM employee, spoke in rebuttal before the board voted.

While Ball agreed that WKM is motivated by profit, it viewed the agreement as an opportunity to promote local businesses, nonprofits and Madison as a whole.

“I think we always see them as opportunities where if the water rises all boats rise. We want to help other entities in Madison rise – that also helps us out – but really a lot of businesses in Madison have a vested interested in keeping Madison doing well,” Ball said.

Ball continued to say that WKM had “sincere interest” in promoting other places and “see this as a huge tool to do so.”

Finally, Ball suggested the board table the measure once more as the agreement was “just a preliminary contract. Something to start on.” 

Ball also said he felt he could speak for WKM owner Stephan DeLorenzo, who was unavailable to attend, in that his employer intended “in no way shape or form” to nullify the board’s power, but that the line in the agreement was meant to create a level of respect on both sides.

Again, Hoffman pointed to the language in the agreement about changing rules and regulations, saying he felt it put WKM in total control.

“We can’t consider preliminaries. We can only consider what’s in front of us,” Hoffman said before calling on a motion to vote.

All eight members present voted “no.” Member Casey Bloos was absent.

Station manager Dennis Crank said he still invites WKM to submit programming to the station, and Hoffman reiterated that he would be willing to consider negotiating the price of programming hours if DeLorenzo desired.

In other business:

• A potential direct partnership with Hanover College was discussed at the meeting. Hoffman said possibilities varied, but the potential was great with the possibility for the college to partner with TV-15 to expand its studio and physical operation as well as work on programming.