Evanston aldermen Monday night approved giving the Evanston Community Media Center a new home in the city’s municipal service center.

The non-profit media group will be able to occupy the space for a token $1 a year payment for three years, with the option for two additional one-year extensions.

The move will save the media center, also known as Evanston Community Television, about $94,000 a year in rent as well as utility costs.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asked the media center’s executive director, Steve Bartlebaugh, whether the move would bring the center closer to being self-supporting.

Bartlebaugh said it would, but that he expects the center will need a transtion period of up to five years to reach self-sufficiency.

He said the group is looking at underwriting opportunities and whether it could do more “advertising-like activities” on online presentation of its programs, which it can’t do now on the cable access channels.

The center has had its subsidy from the city cut in recent years, from $348,000 in 2009 to $172,000 this year.

It also receives about $100,000 a year in equipment funding from Comcast and AT&T, according to a city staff memo describing the lease agreement.

In addition, the center receives much smaller amounts from membership dues and fundraising and a payment from School District 65 for managing its cable channel.

The new space in the municipal service center at 2020 Asbury Ave. will be considerably smaller than the media center’s current rented space at 1285 Hartrey Ave. and includes only one studio rather than the two in the current facility.

The center manages operation of the city’s government access cable channel 16, District 65’s channel 19 and the public access channel 6.

The media center’s current lease runs through November 2012, but Bartlebaugh said he believes the group can negotiate an early termination of the lease with its current landlord.

The group expects to move into the city space by sometime around the end of this year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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