The Minneapolis Television Network is an independent nonprofit organization founded by the Minneapolis Mayor and City Council in 1983. Our history began with the arrival of cable television in our city. Minnesota State law required that a cable franchise contract exist between the city and the cable company and that the franchise support community television. Minneapolis took advantage of this and required that the cable company provide operating, capital equipment funds and channel space for public use. The first company to offer cable service was Rogers Cablevision in 1983. The current franchise holder in Minneapolis is Comcast Cable.
MTN is a non-profit organization governed by nine Board Members appointed by the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor and three Ex Officio Members representing the Minneapolis Public Schools, the City of Minneapolis and Comcast Cable.
MTN began operating in the Lehman Center on East Lake Street in South Minneapolis. MTN's first Co-Executive Directors were Will Leow-Bloesser and Carol Bannister. In 1990 Anthony Riddle replaced them and in 1995 Pamela Colby took over and remains Executive Director today. In 1990 we moved into the St. Anthony Main complex along the Mississippi River on Historic Main Street. We currently occupy 10,000 square feet of space that includes a large checkout area, two studios, a public lounge area, a computer lab, ten edit suites, two classrooms, a conference room and ten offices. Our playback facility remains in the Time Warner building at 801 Plymouth Avenue North.
Since our inception MTN has remained faithful to our mission of strengthening community through the free exchange of information and ideas. In 1994 the MTN Board of Directors inspired by the desire to get non-profit organizations savvy about the burgeoning Internet initiated a new program called the River Project to offer Internet dial up access and WEB hosting to non-profit organizations. At peak MTN had 1500 dial up accounts and 300 WEB sites hosted on our server. In 2000 MTN sold the business to Infinetivity a large Internet Service Provider based in Burnsville, Minnesota. Changes in the market place, increased competition and the struggle of staying current with rapidly changing technology made this essential.
Today MTN is a vibrant community-gathering place where citizens congregate daily to create television programming. We offer free Information Workshops bi-weekly and our television training classes are ongoing. We welcome and encourage youth to our facility and offer media literacy curriculum in addition to television production training.
Our three public access channels are filled with original programming. Many of our new immigrants take advantage of public access to communicate with constituents in their native languages. Examples of this programming include: Somali TV, Ethiopian TV, Oromia TV, Awade Ethiopia, Vietnamese Minnesotans TV, Sahan TV-African Ethinic Magazine and Somali TV. In addition we are blessed with programming from a variety of diverse communities in Minneapolis including: Youth, Seniors, African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, Latin Americans, Gays and Lesbians, Political Organizations and advocates, Religious Communities, Arts Communities including Theater, Dance, Live Music and much-much more.
Just as MTN celebrates our successes we also face challenges in the coming years.We work hard to stay current with new technology but face difficult financial barriers in terms of new digital equipment. Obviously we face some pretty large obstacles but we have the advantage of support at City Hall, a dedicated Board and Staff, and a grass roots membership base made up of citizens who believe in public access television. We thank all of you who have supported community television over the years and invite all of you who are not members of MTN to join today.