MISSISSIPPI AUTHORITY FOR EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION
Regular Telephonic Meeting of the Board of Directors
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
MAET Administration Building
3825 Ridgewood Road
Directors present: Perry Sansing, Chair, David Allen, Vice-Chair,
Jennifer O’Neal, Pete Smith and Bob Sawyer
Directors absent: Alan Perry
Directors participating telephonically: None
Staff present: Ronnie Agnew, Roy Davis, John Gibson, Cedric Grizzell, Jason Klein, Jillian Lehmann, Paul Moore, Claudia Morris, Maggie Stevenson, Ryanne Saucier, Henry Williams and Tara Wren
Others present: Ann Becker, LeAnne Brewer, David Scott and Onetta Whitley
Other participating telephonically: Steve Schaffer (Schwartz Woods and Miller)
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A motion was made by Director Sawyer, and seconded by Director O’Neal that the Board approve the agenda, and upon a unanimous vote, the motion carried.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
A motion was made by Director Sawyer and seconded by Director O’Neal that the Board approve the Minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors held on March 17 and June 23, 2015 and upon a unanimous vote, the motion carried.
Ronnie Agnew introduced and welcomed new Board member Jennifer O’Neal and the new Attorney General representative to the Board, David Scott. Ronnie Agnew introduced the board to new underwriting MPB staff Cedric Grizzell and Jillian Lehmann and new director of TV John Gibson.
[Onetta Whitley joined the meeting.]
DISCUSSION RE: Spectrum Auction
Ronnie Agnew recognized Steve Schaffer, longtime MPB Federal Communication Commission counsel to in Washington D.C., to give the directors an update regarding upcoming FCC television spectrum auction.
Steve Schaffer explained the purpose and procedure of the reverse and forward auctions.
[Chairman Perry Sansing joined the meeting.]
Steve Schaffer stressed that parties involved are bound by anti-collusion rules and should not speak to anyone about MPB’s intention to be or not be involved with the auction.
Ryanne Saucier noted that there will be a separate telephonic meeting at some point in the near future for MPB Board members to learn from the expert provided to us by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Ryanne Saucier added that research to date indicates that there will likely be little interest from FCC for our spectrum, but the expert will provide clarity along with counsel regarding next steps.
Perry Sansing indicated that any questions Board members might receive regarding this issue should be directed to Ronnie Agnew and Ryanne Saucier who will then refer the person to legal counsel.
[Steve Schaffer left the meeting.]
Paul Moore presented the financial report and noted that our income from education enhancement funds is down. These funds are dependent on Mississippi tax revenue, which has been lower than projected for the last two quarters. Paul Moore explained the increase in income from the insurance proceeds due to flooding in the MPB building last year. These monies will be used to replace production equipment lost due to the flood. A copy of the financial report is include as a part of these Minutes as Exhibit A.
Ronnie Agnew and Paul Moore noted that state agency directors were instructed by the chairman of the Mississippi House Appropriations committee to submit a plan for a 7.8% cut that may go into effect in early 2016 if the present education funding education bill (Initiative 42) passes in the November election. Paul Moore added that this would amount to a $617,000 cut for MPB and would entail loss of employees and programming.
Paul Moore presented the report of Expenses and Contracts in excess of $50,000 and asked that the board approve payment to National Public Radio (NPR) of $268,390 for programming.
A motion was made by Vice Chair Allen and seconded by Director Smith that the Board approve the payment of $268,390 for programming, and upon a unanimous vote, the motion carried.
Ronnie Agnew recognized Tara Wren and Paul Moore to give an update on underwriting.
Tara Wren mentioned that Cedric Grizzell and Jillian Lehmann are obtaining information as needed from Foundation to use as they begin the process of obtaining underwriting for MPB.
Paul Moore explained the infrastructure needed as the responsibilities for underwriting are transferred from the Foundation to MPB.
LeAnne Brewer presented a report from the Foundation and stated that the present focus is pursuing an endowment.
Chairman Sansing noted that the Foundation has presently not committed to the grant amount requested by MPB for this year. Discussion followed about the responsibilities of each entity as underwriting duties are in transition, and a decision was made for a second meeting of Ronnie Agnew, LeAnne Brewer, Paul Moore, Ann Becker and Perry Sansing to take place in the near future.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Ronnie Agnew announced that he and Paul Moore have met with the new budget analyst for MPB and have submitted the budget request for FY 2017.
Ronnie Agnew stated that Alistair Bruce, the historian for PBS’s hit Downton Abbey, will be present for our Downton Abbey screening event on December 8, 2015, in Oxford.
Ronnie Agnew noted that the screening of our documentary on Mississippi’s gulf coast’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina Rising Above the Surge and the reception before the screening were well-attended and successful. Ronnie Agnew added that there have been several showings of MPB’s documentary on William Winter The Toughest Job around the state.
Ronnie Agnew mentioned that MPB has the honor of being one of a few stations to have live broadcasting included on national AmGrad day, October 3.
Ronnie Agnew announced that he was recently elected to serve on the Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) Board of Directors.
Ronnie Agnew recognized staff members to give an update on their departments.
Jason Klein updated the board on the new voice talent now heard on MPB. Jason Klein added that the voice belongs to a Jackson State University alumnus who is now a voice actor in Los Angeles.
Jason Klein noted that radio drive time will be October 12-25.
Tara Wren reported that the new brand for MPB was rolled out on September 1 and that response has been very positive.
Ryanne Saucier announced that WGBH-Boston is developing a cloud-based system by which programming can be accessed. Ryanne Saucier added that WGBH paid for two of our technical services employees to travel to Boston to observe the new system and that WGBH and Sony provided staff to come to MPB to analyze our current system.
Maggie Stevenson stated that MPB education department had just received notice that MPB is one of eleven stations in the U.S. to be awarded a Ready to Learn grant.
BOARD MEETING SCHEDULE FY 2016
A motion was made by Director Sawyer and seconded by Director Vice-Chair Allen that the board approved the proposed meeting schedule and upon a unanimous vote, the motion carried.
The meeting schedule is included as a part of these Minutes as Exhibit B.
A motion was made by Director Sawyer and seconded by Director Smith that the present chair (Perry Sansing) and co-chair (David Allen) remain in office for Fiscal Year 2015, and upon and unanimous vote, the motioned carried.
Chairman Sansing stated that the contract made with Amy Whitten has expired. Chairman Sansing asked that Ryanne Saucier and David Scott determine the next step in extending or renewing the contract as needed.
A motion was made by Vice-Chair Allen and seconded by Director Sawyer that the Board consider going into a closed determination session for the purpose of discussing whether it had cause to go into executive session. The motion to go into closed determination session was unanimously passed by the Board members present.
In closed determination session, a motion was made by Vice-Chair Allen and seconded by Director Sawyer that the Board go into executive session for the following reason:
Strategy or negotiations with respect to prospective litigation, litigation or issuance of an appealable order when an open meeting would have detrimental effect on the litigating position of the Authority.
The motion to go into executive session was unanimously approved by the Board members present.
Upon conclusion of the business for executive session, the Board voted, upon a motion made by Director Smith and seconded by Vice-Chair Allen to return to open session.
No action was taken by the Board.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.