The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 24, 2014

Commission OKs plan to de-fund PEGASYS

(Continued)

ENID, Okla. —

PEGASYS taped program of the city commission meeting that defunded PEGASYS

In Vanhooser’s eyes, though, PEGASYS has had lingering issues that haven’t been dealt with. He cited years worth of meeting minutes that describe previous commissioners’ frustration with a lack of fundraising and proactive growth.

“The issue of what to do with PEGASYS has been plaguing this commission for at least 10 years,” Vanhooser said Thursday during the commission’s regular meeting.

The resolution itself does not define the reasons for ending the relationship and taking over operations. Instead, Vanhooser listed several that he’s become aware of:

• That PEGASYS does not keep up with current media trends.

• That there are no new ideas for programming.

• That there are no new outside funds raised to support PEGASYS.

• That the station still uses standard definition equipment.

• That only 11 new members were added to the rolls in 2013.

The nonprofit’s most vocal defender on the commission, Ward 3’s Ben Ezzell, said PEGASYS has been acting in good faith since the last budget talks, in which the commission voted to examine its support halfway through the budget year.

At the time, he said, there was no written ultimatum for the PEGASYS board to follow.

“Isn’t this kind of the nuclear option?” Ezzell said. “It’s not, ‘Here’s our suggestions’ at six months — it’s, ‘You’re gone. We’re taking all your stuff and your money.’ It’s kind of a dramatic option.”

Speaking on behalf of the PEGASYS board, Bill Maxwell criticized the failure in communication between the two entities. He also said it would be simpler to ask for the current board’s resignation rather than completely restructure PEGASYS.

Vanhooser previously challenged the agency to raise half its operating revenue by the end of this fiscal year, something Maxwell said would be very difficult.

“Is that what PEGASYS is about? To raise funds? Or is it to provide public-education-government access television?” Maxwell said.

Maxwell, who is an attorney, has hinted there could be litigation to halt implementation of Vanhooser’s resolution. Beyond June, though, when the current funding year expires, there appears to be no obligation for the city to continue supporting the agency as is.

 

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