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Albuquerque PEG Channel Group Claims 501(c)(3) Status

Organizations designated as having 501(c) status by the IRS are tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation or associations.

An officer for an organization that has bid to run Albuquerque’s public channel 27, one of two public access channels operated by the city, disputes allegations the organization is not a government recognized nonprofit corporation.

John Metz, the president of GCMA, the organization behind uPublic TV which has bid to operate channel 27, says GCMA was a nonprofit and had 501(c)(3) status on Aug. 30, 2011 when it filed its proposal with Albuquerque for management of channel 27. In addition, a revocation of GCMA’s 501(c)(3) by the IRS was for an earlier version of GCMA, and has nothing to do with what the organization is doing today, he said.

Organizations designated as having 501(c) status by the IRS are tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation or associations. There are 28 categories under which an organization can be designated, and 501(c)(3) designation is for religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or prevention of cruelty to children or animals organizations.

On Oct. 28, 2011, an evaluation committee comprised of staff from Albuquerque’s legal and cultural services departments recommended the city accept uPublicTV’s bid to run channel 27 over a bid by the public access production facility Quote-Unquote, which has been operating public access channels for the city for 30 years. Albuquerque’s City Council has yet to make the final decision on which organization will run channel 27.

In the “declarations” section of GCMA’s proposal, the group says, “uPublicTV is a non-profit corporation. Our corporate name is GCMA, and we do business as uPublicTV. We are organized in the state of New Mexico and have received our IRS determination under section 501(c)(3). Documents to this effect can be provided upon request.”

Of that declaration, Metz says, “We were a non profit when we filed the RFP, and anything we signed at the time was true.” Metz cites GCMA’s listing on the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission’s website as a “domestic nonprofit” that “is in good standing until May 15, 2013” as proof of its nonprofit status.

However, on the IRS website, GCMA is listed among thousands of organizations whose 501(c)(3) status was revoked by the IRS. The date of the revocation is May 15, 2010, and the date it was posted is June 9, 2011.

“The GCMA that they [the IRS] are saying is revoked is a different non profit, that had a different mission,” Metz said. “We probably should have called it [GCMA] something different, but we didn’t.”

In addition, the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission’s web does not list GCMA as having 501(c)(3) status by the IRS, and Metz has not yet provided documentation that GCMA has again been granted that status by the IRS.

The IRS list revoking GCMA’s 501(c)(3) status has led to the The Alliance for Community Media (ACM)—a public, education, government (PEG) television advocacy group—criticizing Albuquerque officials for their “failure to conduct due diligence and fair dealing in its review of access television proposals.” ACM’s board of directors also “demanded that the city rescind its offer to uPublicTV.”

While the ACM admonishes Albuquerque officials, Quote-Unquote has filed a formal protest with Albuquerque that challenges GCMA’s 501(c)(3) status. The document says, “An operator of public access TV should have accountability and transparency to the public. GCMA dba uPublicTV states that it is a privately owned nonprofit and 501(c)(3) company. Careful review and telephone inquiries show that these entities are neither nonprofit nor 501(c)(3).”