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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

YouTube and Cable

The rise of YouTube and other video content services have contributed a lot to the corpus of local communication. YouTube videos are cool to watch on your fast computer and broadband connection. I needed to explain to someone who Marian Anderson was, so I logged on to YouTube and in thirty seconds had her Lincoln Memorial performance running. That is a powerful assist to face to face communication that you cannot get with legacy television.

It is therefore a little too easy for a critic to discount access cable television by claiming that YouTube is a perfect replacement. This opinion seems to be most prevalent in cities that collect PEG funds but prefer not to share them with other legitimate stakeholders.

The problem with that claim is that it is intellectually dishonest. Consider this; access to YouTube in a comfortable mode, without stuttering requires a fast, (expensive), computer and a broadband, (expensive), connection. So, fewer people, and historically the people able to derive the greatest benefit from community television are shut out because of cost. Some people can't afford cable either but there are less of them.

YouTube and other Web entities do not subtract at all from the legacy television audience. San Jose State Business Professor Randall Stross points out that: "The video mode has been reinforced by the rise of YouTube. In December,[2009] almost 100 million viewers in the United States watched 5.9 billion YouTube videos, according to comScore. Tellingly, YouTube has not cannibalized TV viewership — it has instead carved out another chunk of our leisure time for video on a screen."

The answer here is not either/or but which is the best pathway to larger distribution. YouTube movies generally make for poor cable television programs. But programs produced by trained, skilled local citizen communicators for cable transmission sure do look good on YouTube and the other dozen or so venues. So when the YouTube dodge is invoked remind that person that The idea is to feed both expressions, not one or the other.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hiatus is Over

This blog was basically abandoned in October 2009 because the values and ideas presented seemed no longer valid for Contra Costa County. The Access Contra Costa proposal for public and educational access management and rollout was dismissed in the usual way judicatories discourage petitioners-'thank you for providing substantive information but please come back and give us much more information so we can ask you for even more.' That charade had lasted three years and was a deal breaker for everyone involved. The Access Contra Costa applicants listened as a city official berated public access once again and, of course, invoking YouTube as a sufficient alternative to a public access television channel.

But times change and so do ways of creating public media. With this posting I wish to announce that The Martinez Lightworks is the newest community media center in Contra Costa County. At the start it will be privately held with myself as principal, and steadily build the basic components of a public/educational access facility. The first project is to create a flash studio, a one-person station where one can record a webinar, podcast, turn a slide presentation into a video or produce local promotional videos.

Income for the media center development will come from community media services performed professionally by the Martinez Lightworks.

The idea of a public service institution being a for-profit venture is very new to access television. However, one only has to look as far as Heald College or the Job Corps to see how privately held companies can provide excellent value for scarce dollars.

Just about every other path to a media center in Contra Costa County has collapsed, perhaps free enterprise might at last save the day. Please wish us luck folks.