SWOCC Studios shutters after 30 years

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published June 15, 2016

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS/NOVI — Technological advances wait for no one. 

The times have caught up with the South West Oakland Cable Commission, which recently closed after turning 34 this year.

SWOCC Studios — a local cable commission broadcasting in Farmington, Farmington Hills and Novi on channels 8, 12, 13 and 15 — was located at 33300 W. Nine Mile Road in Farmington.

Farmington City Manager David Murphy said that while the closing of SWOCC is “unfortunate,” it is obvious that times have changed. The state Legislature changed the laws covering local negotiations for franchise agreements.

“Several years ago, we went to a statewide franchise agreement …  and more people are getting away from cable, so the revenue is just not there,” he said.

A live bid auction took place June 7 to auction off items such as control boards and panels, lighting systems, studio and remote cameras, editing equipment, office equipment, furnishings and more, according to a press release.  

For more information about the auction, call the Brodie Corp. at (734) 744-9220. 

Murphy said that the city hired historian Brian Golden to oversee the city’s public access programming.

“We might have even more programming now (and) coverage of local events,” Murphy said. Some events include City Council meetings, parades and more. 

“We’re looking forward to … promote more of our business and what the city is doing for residents.”

He added that the city paid about $28,000 annually to SWOCC; the funds will be redirected to Golden’s operation.

Farmington Hills City Manager David Boyer said that the decision to close SWOCC has been in the works for the last couple of years.

“It didn’t make sense to continue SWOCC in the format it was running,” he said, adding that a survey was conducted two years ago to look at the SWOCC facility and operations, and upgraders were needed, but it didn’t make sense to upgrade. Around the same time, the city of Novi asked to leave SWOCC, which got the ball rolling.

Boyer said that Farmington Hills has its own staff, who formerly worked at SWOCC and who will now oversee city programs. He added that with the advent of YouTube and other platforms, it didn’t make sense to keep SWOCC’s doors open because people can film and post anywhere.

“In the old days ... we used to do a lot more programming in the studios itself,” he said, but recently the SWOCC building was not getting much use.

Boyer added that each community will still have an access point for its programming. Farmington Hills’ access point will be at the Costick Activities Center, Farmington will move its operations to the City Hall council chambers, and Novi will work out of a school building.

Farmington Hills paid about 55 percent annually of SWOCC’s budget, while Novi paid about 38 percent and Farmington 7 percent.

Murphy said that SWOCC’s commission is still an active board of about seven members from all three cities. They will remain active until the assets are sold, he added.

Novi City Manager Peter Auger said that the public access channel is “one of those success stories.”

“Thirty years ago, three communities came together and formed an entity to provide services for three communities, and each community has grown since then,” Auger said, adding that technology has changed at a rapid pace. “We are currently working and hired two technicians to supply Novi with top-notch cable programming.”

Auger added that this success story has a great ending.

“I think all three units will prosper fine,” he said.