On Tuesday and Wednesday, the City of Missoula and Missoula Community Access Television will be hosting focus groups to help decide the future of the city’s cable franchise agreement renewal.

MCAT’s General Manager Joel Baird said the focus groups will help decide the direction of community television and communication for the next decade or longer.

“The reason for the focus groups is that the contract between the cable provider (Charter Spectrum) and the City of Missoula will expire at the end of this year,” Baird said. “That’s been a 15 year term that included support for local media outlets like MCAT. The next contract is expected to last 10 years and we want people to give us input on what direction they want Missoula media to take.”

Baird said he expects discussions about more live streaming of events, as well as a more active presence on social media.

“We’ll all be in super listening mode over the two days,” he said. My consultants at the Buske Group have been through the contract talks which are about franchise renewal. She will give an introduction about how the franchise renewal works and what’s at stake, and then the conversations will start.”

Baird said the renewal means a great deal financially to all parties involved.

“To MCAT it probably means about $5 million over the next 10 years, and to the City of Missoula it probably means about $7 million and to the cable provider Charter Spectrum the estimates are that they’re set to earn about $340 million,” he said.

The focus groups will form in the large meeting room at the Missoula Public Library from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. or from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, or from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon or from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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